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The Tennessee Promise Provides Free Tuition but Students Still Struggle

Thousands of students this fall are taking advantage of the Tennessee Promise, the much-vaunted program that provides two years of free tuition to any high-school graduate in the state who attends community college or technical school.

Whether they’ll last beyond the fall semester, though, is far from certain. Walk through the campuses of Tennessee’s community colleges and you won’t see many students studying in the library or lingering on the quad. Many of them come to school for classes, and then go off to jobs where they work 30 or 40 hours a week to pay for rent, books, and other living expenses. That balancing act can be a challenge for students, free tuition notwithstanding.