Governor’s “Complete to Compete” Legislation Advances in Senate; Calendared for House Finance, Ways, and Mean Subcommittee Next Week

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Consideration of the Haslam Administration’s “Complete to Compete” initiative, aimed at ensuring HOPE scholarship and Tennessee Promise recipients remain on track for timely graduation, is calendared for the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on Monday, April 9.  The House and Senate versions of the bill currently contain significant differences.

The legislation advanced this week in the Senate, passing the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.  It has not yet been scheduled for a Senate floor vote.

The original bill would have required students receiving the Tennessee Promise or HOPE scholarships to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours in a 12-month period or receive a $250 reduction in award aid. Currently, to be a “full-time” student, students are required to take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. However, in recent years, UT campuses have encouraged, but not required, students to take 15 credit hours per semester to better enable a path to a bachelor’s degree within four years.

The amended House version of the bill exempts students at four-year institutions from the 30-in-12 requirements. This change has been advocated by the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA).

The Senate version, however, still applies to both Tennessee Promise and HOPE scholarship recipients at two-year and four-year institutions, but contains important exemptions for students pursuing co-ops and internships, and an appeals process for students facing extenuating circumstances. Many of the exemptions in the Senate bill were advocated by the University of Tennessee.

The significant differences between the House and Senate versions will have to be worked out before the bill becomes law.

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