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The University of Tennessee system is reacting to governor Haslam's plan to provide Tennessee high school graduates with two years of free tuition to a state community college or technical school.

Governor Bill Haslam unveiled the Tennessee Promise Monday night at his fourth annual State of the State address.

Dr. Katie High, vice-president for Academic Affairs and Student Success with the UT system, said if the plan is approved, its impact could vary from campus to campus.

She said smaller schools like UT-Martin and UT-Chattanooga could end up being affected the most.

High said UT-Martin is currently at a position where it can take all of the freshman applicants it gets. She said if it has to compete with community colleges for students, the school could initially see its freshmen enrollment number drop.

High said such a situation can put a campus in a position where it has to re-evaluate its operations.

"Let's say if we lose 200 freshmen?" she said. "What happens to our housing situation, can we afford to lose 200 freshmen?"

High did say things on the Knoxville campus would likely be different. About 14,000 students apply to the campus each year, but there are only 4,200 seats available.

"So, even if some of those 4,200 who choose to come here, choose to go to community college, I'm going to assume there's going to be plenty of others who want to come [in their place]."

Either way, High said all UT campuses are in a good position to accept many of the upperclassmen transfer students who may come their way.

The governor also proposed changes to the Hope Scholarship in his State of the State address.

Under Haslam's plan, a student at a four-year school would only receive $3,000 their first two years in comparison to the $4,000 they receive now. Then, during a student's junior and senior years, that amount would bump up to a total of $5,000.

High said if that plays out, she envisions a scenario where the UT system could work to make up the difference for current Hope scholars impacted by a change.

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