Gov. Bill Haslam signed the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Bill June 8 on the MTSU campus, a measure that will allow college students across the state to use lottery scholarship funds to enroll in summer school next year.
The signing took place in MTSU’s new Education Building. Those scholarship funds previously were earmarked for use only during the regular academic year.
“This is a big day for education in Tennessee,” Haslam announced to an overflow audience that included a large group of students. “There were only four or five items on the legislative agenda that we were going to focus on, and this was one of them. … Last year when the Complete College Act was passed, it encouraged students to be about the business of graduating. It’s important that we align our goals with how we’re rewarding people.
“I had a chance to talk to several students this morning, and every one of them said, ‘I go to summer school. I have to go to summer school if I want to finish on time. I have to have Hope Scholarship money to do it.’ These students were from all over the state with different majors, and they all shared some things in common. All of them had to borrow money to go to school, and they were all Hope Lottery Scholarship users who wanted to use it for the summer. And every one of them was working at least one other job,” the governor added.
Under the new law, lottery-scholarship funds will be available for qualified Tennessee recipients who began their post-high-school education in fall 2009 or later and who wish to enroll in summer college courses beginning in 2012.
“This new bill will be a step in the right direction, because it encourages students to move at a faster pace toward graduation,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “This legislation also supports the goals of the Tennessee Complete College Act of 2010 and is one of the first of many actions taken by the governor and the general assembly in supporting education in this state.
“Research shows that students who participate in summer-school programs will graduate at a significantly higher rate than those who do not attend summer school,” McPhee continued. “That’s what we’re all about: student success, higher graduation rates and our production of a prepared workforce that will bring jobs to the state.”
Both Haslam and McPhee thanked state Rep. Jim Coley of Bartlett and Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, co-sponsors of the legislation, as well as state Reps. Richard Montgomery of Sevierville and Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, House Education Committee chair and vice chair, respectively, for their long hours of work and commitment to education in Tennessee.
“Several years ago, my colleagues and I applauded the efforts of the Hope Scholarship,” Coley noted. “This year we passed legislation that opens yet another door for students. I was delighted to be a co-sponsor of this bill with Sen. Jim Tracy.”
“This is something that many of us have been working on for at least six years,” added Tracy. “This will give more students the opportunity to use the Hope Scholarship. I’m very excited.”
A brief video from the event is available below.