Haslam touts Tennessee Promise program at Columbia State

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FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday visited Columbia State Community College to welcome back students participating in his Tennessee Promise program that offers free tuition at the state's two-year colleges.

Haslam's visit to the school's Williamson County campus in Franklin followed the news that Tennessee for the second year in a row has led the nation in the rate of Free Application for Federal Student Aid filings. The filings are one of the prerequisites for the free tuition program.

Haslam says the FAFSA form completion shows an improvement in the college-going culture in Tennessee.

"It really shows that all Tennesseans are getting this idea that college can be for everybody," Haslam said. "And if it's free, no matter what your family background is, you now have the opportunity to school.

"Hopefully it's creating an opportunity for a lot of people that will make a lifelong difference," he said.

The Tennessee Promise program is part of Haslam's Drive to 55 initiative, which aims to grow the state's graduation rate to 55 percent by the year 2025.

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