Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to offer Tennessee adults tuition-free community college moved closer to a reality Thursday when state House members approved the measure.
Haslam proposed the Tennessee Reconnect grant during his State of the State address earlier this year. The plan would build on the Tennessee Promise scholarship model, which offers high school students tuition-free community college.
If the plan is approved by the Senate, every Tennessee resident without a college education will be able to pursue higher education without paying tuition. Tennessee would be the first state in the nation to offer such widespread college access.
Current estimates suggest the plan would cost the state $11.2 million per year. Funding would come from the state's lottery proceeds.
Buoyed by the national praise for Tennessee Promise, the Reconnect plan has enjoyed relatively smooth passage through the General Assembly. The House passed it with a 87-6 vote after a few minutes of discussion.
The bill must pass through the Senate before it can make it to Haslam's desk. Should it pass, adults could start tuition-free community college in fall 2018.
Jake Lowary contributed to this report.
Reach Adam Tamburin at atamburin@tennessean,com and 615-726-5986 or on Twitter @tamburintweets.