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Rate of high school graduates going to college drops 2.6%, according to Tennessee Promise data

Officials said that by 2019, around 61.8% of high school graduates enrolled in college during the summer or fall term following graduation.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Fewer high school graduates are headed directly to college in Tennessee, according to new data from the Tennessee Promise.

They said that 61.8% of students went directly to college after graduating high school, according to a report. In the year before, 62.5% went directly to college. And in the year immediately after the program began, in 2015, officials said 64.4% of students went directly to college.

The Tennessee Promise program allows students to attend a post-secondary school without paying tuition or fees out-of-pocket. Participants also have access to non-financial support from volunteer mentors who help them transition from high education and into higher education.

In October 2020, officials with the program said that applications were down around 20% across the state. 

Despite the numbers dropping after 2015, the rate of students attending college remained higher compared to rates from before the program started.

Retention at community colleges also fell, according to the report. From 2014 to 2015, officials said that 58.2% of students returned to college for their second year. Yet, that number fell to 56.8% from 2018 to 2019.

The Tennessee Promise hope s to increase the percentage of Tennesseeans to 55% by 2025. Officials said that they have still surpassed the minimum annual growth needed to reach that goal, despite the slightly falling numbers.