WGU Tennessee offers Tennessee Promise scholarship


The state’s online university is rolling out a scholarship to court Tennessee Promise students as they graduate from community college, one of several attempts four-year schools are making to capitalize on the landmark program.

The first class of Tennessee Promise students, who began community or technical college tuition-free in fall 2015, will start graduating in May, and university leaders are hoping to encourage those students to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree. WGU Tennessee, the state-backed online university, began promoting the Fulfilling the Promise Scholarship program this month.

The program will offer 20 scholarships of up to $2,000 to Tennessee Promise graduates this year. The scholarship covers two-thirds of the $3,000 tuition WGU charges per six-month term. Other discounts will be available for Tennessee Promise students as well.

Additional discounts are available for students who do not receive the scholarship. WGU Tennessee has a partnership with Tennessee’s 13 community colleges that shaves 5 percent off tuition for any community college graduate who transfers to the online university.

Multiple universities have taken steps to attract Tennessee Promise students with similar scholarship options. The University of Tennessee is touting the Volunteer Transfer Scholarship, and Lipscomb University launched the Lipscomb Promise scholarship to great fanfare earlier this month.

WGU Tennessee President Kimberly Estep said her institution isn’t necessarily competing with other universities on this front. She recognized that many Tennessee Promise students would crave a traditional campus experience that her institution could not provide.

“I see us as any other four-year institutions as serving two different markets of associate degree holders,” Estep said. “It’s really based on what they’re doing with their lives at the time they finish their associate degree.”

For a sliver of Tennessee Promise students — looking for degrees in teaching, business, information technology or health — an exclusively online environment might be the right fit. Students at WGU Tennessee can complete classes from home at their own speed — students with an associate degree typically finish their bachelor’s degrees in 18 months.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, ADAM TAMBURIN

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org

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