It’s True! States Offering FREE College Tuition



In an era when the rising cost of education feels as certain as death and taxes, there are still a few surprises. One thing that shocked me was the news that another state is proposing free higher education for students at community colleges.

The proposals have come up in three states so far: Mississippi, Oregon, and Tennessee. The stipulations are that students may attend a community college for free for two to three years, so long as they attend school full time and maintain a minimum grade point average.

Strangely enough, these new proposals are raising concerns– a major one being that with free community college education, students may be steered away from attending expensive four-year universities. On the other hand, this may also pressure the education market to lower costs to remain competitive.

State budgets are also receiving more funds since the recession and the slow reversal of the federal budget sequester that starved state education funding in recent years. Now that things are turning around in that area, we are seeing more pushes for state funding for public education and a slow-down in the rate of increase of the average cost of higher education.

In Tennessee, the state is suggesting they will be able to afford the new measures for free education for community college students with funds from the state’s lottery. They expect 25,000 students to apply at a cost of $34 million dollars to the state. To offset some of their costs, the state will also rely on federal grants, such as Pell grants, to cover a chunk of the costs, before they pay the balance.

Tennessee is calling their program the “Tennessee Promise” and it is scheduled to launch in 2015. The program states that it is “available to all students regardless of socioeconomic status, partnering organizations will work with high school guidance counselors to target at-risk students who would otherwise not pursue any education beyond high school.”

Furthermore, “[s]tudents can use the Tennessee Promise at any of Tennessee’s 27 colleges of applied technology (TCATs), 13 community colleges or any in-state independent or four-year public university offering an associate’s degree.”

It’s clear that college is something that can be made available to all Americans if we put the emphasis on making it so. Like any national effort, we all have to do our part. BIGWORDS tries to do our part by making sure students always have access to cheap textbooks. We help students save $1,000 a year on average by connecting them directly to the cheapest sources to buy or rent textbooks and then help students earn back the most return on their books during buyback at the end of the semester by making it easy to sell textbooks. That’s our mission and that’s why we’re the leader in college textbooks–we save students money.

Programs like the Tennessee Promise are great examples of public servants and state leaders innovating and allocating to make college more accessible by making it more affordable to students graduating for high school.

So, do you want affordable to free education for students in your state… for your children? If so, remember, that we must all do our part, and if we do, together, we shall succeed.