(NASHVILLE, TN), April 14, 2011 – The Senate Education Committee has approved legislation, sponsored by Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), to allow lottery scholarship recipients to use their HOPE scholarship to enroll in summer classes. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), will help the state reach the goal of raising educational attainment rates by promoting and incentivizing college completion. The legislation is part of a package of education reform bills proposed by Governor Bill Haslam.
“Last year, the General Assembly passed the Complete College Tennessee Act with the goal of raising educational attainment rates in Tennessee,” said Senator Tracy. “The HOPE scholarship bill builds on that legislation by giving students the option to attend summer classes in order to progress and graduate in a timely manner. It also allows our colleges and universities to better utilize their buildings and campuses all year long.”
Current law allows up to five years on the lottery scholarship without a cap on the number of hours the program will fund, but it does not include funding for summer semesters. Senate Bill 1529 redefines “academic year” for the purpose of the lottery scholarship program and includes the summer semester, making it possible for student to use their lottery scholarships during the summer. A 120-hour cap on lottery funding, with exceptions allowed for programs that require more than 120 hours for completion, will apply to students who first received a lottery scholarship in the fall semester of 2010 or thereafter. Students who first received the lottery scholarship prior to the fall semester of 2010 (current sophomores, juniors, and seniors) will be eligible for summer funding while having up to five years to complete their studies utilizing scholarship money. For those students who will be subject to the 120-hour cap, courses taken this summer (2011) that do not receive lottery funding will not count against their cap.
“Many students do not have the money, without the help of lottery scholarship funds, to take summer courses to finish college on time,” added Tracy. “This bill will help students find the resources to complete their academic requirements and, at the same time, will help Tennessee raise our graduation completion rates, which is critically important to draw new jobs to our state.”
“This proposal will give our students more flexibility to complete their college degrees earlier,” added Senator Ketron. “I am very pleased we are moving forward with this bill.”