NASHVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee Interim President Randy Boyd announced Thursday a financial aid program that will provide free tuition to qualifying Tennessee residents enrolling at University of Tennessee campuses located in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin.
The program will be called “UT Promise." The announcement was made at the annual State of UT Address held at the Nashville Public Library.
UT Promise is a last-dollar scholarship program that will guarantee free tuition and fees for students with a family household income of under $50,000 and after other financial aid is received.
Students must qualify for the Hope Scholarship and meet the academic qualifications for the institution to be eligible for this new scholarship. To help ensure success, students will be matched with volunteer mentors and will complete four hours of service learning each semester.
“It is critically important that we take a lead role in ensuring students can achieve their dream of obtaining an undergraduate college degree,” Boyd said. “It is our mission and responsibility to do everything we can to ease the financial burden for our middle- and working-class families, and UT Promise is an ideal conduit to achieve that.”
The university said UT Promise's first class will be welcomed in the fall of 2020.
The UT Promise Scholarship program is the only one of its kind in the state. Any new first-year student who is admitted and enrolls at UT from one of the eligible high schools will receive the Promise Scholarship.
The scholarship program will include those students who were previously enrolled in college when the program begins in 2020. Qualifying Tennessee residents who meet the criteria for UT Promise can transfer from any institution. According to the university, UT Promise is an expansion of scholarship offerings and does not replace existing scholarships.
The University of Tennessee Foundation plans to launch the UT Promise Endowment campaign at the same time in order to help fund this initiative.
“This endowment will allow this to truly be a promise and guarantee for years to come,” Boyd said.
According to the university, 46 percent of UT students graduate without debt. The goal of UT Promise is to make higher education more accessible and affordable for Tennessee students.
UT Promise will be another tool in the state’s "Drive to 55" workforce development initiative, which aims to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.