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University of Tennessee announces free tuition program for some students

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 30: General view as fans congregate along Phillip Fulmer Way near campus prior to a game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Georgia Bulldogs at Neyland Stadium on September 30, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Georgia won 41-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some Tennessee students could get free tuition to the University of Tennessee with a new program announced Thursday.

The program, called UT Promise, would make tuition free for the UT campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga or Martin (but not the UT medical college in Memphis) for families making less than $50,000 annually.

“It is critically important that we take a lead role in ensuring students can achieve their dream of obtaining an undergraduate college degree,” UT interim president Randy Boyd said. “It is our mission and responsibility to do everything we can to ease the financial burden for our middle- and working-class families, and UT Promise is an ideal conduit to achieve that.”

UT Promise would offer a “last-dollar scholarship” to undergraduate students whose families meet the income requirement and who meet the requirements for both the HOPE Scholarship and UT admissions. It would be applied after any other financial aid is disbursed.

The program will begin in fall 2020. Qualifying current university students can also transfer to one of the three UT campuses to receive the aid.

When it launches, the university will launch the UT Promise Endowment campaign to fund the program. During fundraising, the university will cover the cost.

“This endowment will allow this to truly be a promise and guarantee for years to come,” Boyd said.

According to the university, UT Promise’s goal is to make higher education more accessible and affordable for Tennessee students.

The state’s Tennessee Promise program already offers last-dollar scholarships to the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, and other institutions offering an associate degree program.

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