Free tuition bill could face change, concern - WKRN News 2

Free tuition bill could face change, concern


Governor Bill Haslam's plan for free tuition at Tennessee community colleges may not get a free ride on Tennessee's Capitol Hill.

Hallway whispers are turning into concern as the bill begins to wind its way through legislative committees.

Maury County Republican Representative Sheila Butt says she has heard that concern from about half of House Republicans--and plenty of constituents.

"They see it as another entitlement program," she told News 2. "They see it as us, giving--quote--a free education."

Along with the "entitlement" criticism Rep. Butt said there are concerns about the annual funding to maintain the proposed free tuition for tens of thousands of community college students.

Governor Haslam wants the tuition paid by an endowment established principally by taking $300 million dollars from lottery reserves.

Rep. Butt and several other House Republicans have questioned the "sustainability" of the method.

They have also indicated that the idea leaves many questions for community colleges, themselves.

Several school officials have privately expressed concerns about larger classes and more demands on teachers because of presumably more students due to the free tuition.

Rep. Butt hopes to add a requirement for the free tuition in an amendment when the Governor's bill reaches the House floor.

It would require a 2.0 "C" average or 18 ACT score to be eligible for the free tuition.

The Governor's idea free tuition only requires high school graduation to be eligible.

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