Legislation provides scholarships
The Tennessee House of Rep-resentatives passed legislation this week to provide college scholarships for about 12,000 Tennesseans.
“This bill helps nearly 12,000 Tennesseans achieve the American dream of earning a college degree,” said state Rep. Phillip Pinion of Union City. “By helping more students retain the HOPE Scholarship, we’re going to improve our Tennessee graduation rates and erase college debt for thousands of local students.”
The new legislation places $359.5 million of lottery reserve funds into an endowment that is expected to produce recurring revenues of over $27.5 million. These revenues will fund the expansion of Tennessee’s HOPE Scholarship, reducing the retention GPA from 3.0 to a 2.75 for the first three years of college, followed by a per semester minimum of 3.0 for every semester after a student’s junior year. The funds will also allow students to extend the amount of time they may maintain the HOPE scholarship to five years.
“So many things can happen during a student’s college experience, and to allow one bad semester to ruin a child’s long-term future is against everything that the HOPE scholarship stands for,” Pinion said. “With these recurring dollars, we can help nearly 4,000 students a year retain their scholarship and continue their education. Many Tennesseans have to work to get through college and we’re going to help these folks.”
In addition to the expansion of the HOPE scholarship, the bill also funds up to 5,000 need-based TSAC grants designed to help students who currently qualify for financial assistance. The new legislation will also fund the “Helping Heroes Act of 2008,” a grant service that will assist returning Tennessee soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan with college and cover the shortfall that is currently created by the federal GI Bill.
“Our brave men and women returning home from war deserve a fully-funded college education and thanks to the Helping Heroes Act, Tennessee soldiers will,” Pinion said.
Upon signature by Gov. Phil Bredesen, the new legislation is slated to go into effect on July 1.
Published in The Messenger 5.23.08