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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam promised high school students in Knoxville on Thursday that the state would help provide them with a college education.

The governor was at Fulton High School for the latest in a series of ceremonial signings of the "Tennessee Promise" bill that was passed this legislative session.

The proposal will provide two free years at a state community college or a college of applied technology (TCAT). The funding comes from excess lottery funds, which also provides the Hope Scholarship to college students.

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"Through the Tennessee Promise, we are fighting the rising cost of higher education, and we are raising our expectations as a state," Haslam said. "We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority in the state of Tennessee.

"This is a bold promise," Haslam continued. "It is a promise that speaks volumes to current and prospective employers, and it is a promise that will make a real difference for generations of Tennesseans."

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Participating students must:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Agree to work with a mentor
  • Complete eight hours of community service
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA during their two years at a community college or TCAT.

After graduating from a community college, if students choose to attend a four-year school, the state's Transfer Pathways program makes it possible for those students to start as a junior.

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