Tennesseans strongly support ‘Tennessee Promise’ higher ed initiative

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The “Tennessee Promise” community college initiative enjoys strong support from a large majority of Tennesseans, according to the latest statewide MTSU Poll.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan, which makes two-year community colleges and technical schools free for recent high school graduates, has been cited as inspiration for a similar proposal at the federal level. Tennessee’s program launches with the high school Class of 2015.

The poll found that 79 percent of Tennesseans approve of the program. Only 12 percent oppose it, 8 percent aren’t sure, and the rest gave no answer.
“While the overall support is very high, a deeper look inside the numbers shows less enthusiasm among Republicans,” said Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University.

Since President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address a few weeks ago, proposals to provide free community college have been front and center in the national conversation regarding higher education.

Haslam’s program, which is one plan that Obama says he used as a basis for his proposal, enjoys overwhelming support in the state. But that support is significantly stronger among Democrats and independents than among the governor’s fellow Republicans.

Ninety percent of Democrats favor the program, as do 82 percent of independents. But a significantly lower 70 percent of Republicans express support.
Find previous MTSU Poll results at www.mtsupoll.org.


Interviews for the poll were conducted by Issues & Answers Network Inc., which completed 600 telephone surveys among a random sample of Tennessee residents aged 18 and over.

Data was collected using Tennessee statewide RDD sample with a mix of 80 percent landline and 20 percent cell phones. The average interview length was 13 minutes.
Quotas by gender and geographic region were implemented to ensure the sampled respondents were representative of Tennessee’s adult population. U.S. Census Bureau data were used to determine the gender distribution each of Tennessee’s Grand Divisions: East, Middle, and West.

The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points, meaning that we are 95 percent confident that the actual result lies within 4 percentage points (in either direction) of the result our sample produced.

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