Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Cohen: Tennessee Promise Takes Away from Neediest and Most Meritorious HOPE Scholarship Students

October 27, 2016
Press Release

[MEMPHIS, TN] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) expressed concern about Tennessee Promise freezing the HOPE Scholarship Program in the wake of rising college tuition costs in Tennessee. For 20 years in the Tennessee General Assembly, then-State Senator Cohen worked to create the Tennessee Education Lottery that funds the HOPE and ASPIRE programs that have provided nearly $4 billion to Tennessee’s best and brightest students. Congressman Cohen has been an outspoken critic of Tennessee Promise ever since Governor Haslam announced the plan in 2014 because of its harmful impact on the successful HOPE Scholarship Program.

“Tennessee Promise is hurting the neediest and most meritorious of Tennessee’s students,” said Congressman Cohen. “The Tennessee Promise program has imposed an opportunity cost of freezing and thus crippling the HOPE scholarship program at a time when college tuition costs in Tennessee have skyrocketed and accordingly students are amassing college debt that can follow them for years after graduation. In an article in the Memphis Daily News, Sam Stockard highlights a student at MTSU who is struggling to cope with the rising cost of tuition. The Tennessee General Assembly has not amended the HOPE Scholarship to keep up with rising tuition costs and now, after the implementation of Tennessee Promise, the HOPE Scholarship is providing even smaller scholarships. This has made it harder for our state’s most academically promising young people to begin attending 4-year colleges and universities in Tennessee. I urge the Tennessee General Assembly to increase funding for the HOPE Scholarship program rather than divert all additional lottery funds to Tennessee Promise. We should be incentivizing Tennessee’s best and brightest high school students to continue working hard so they can earn a scholarship that will actually help them afford a quality Tennessee education without resulting in mounting college debt.”

You can read Sam Stockard’s article in the Memphis Daily News here.