ETSU President Brian Noland outlined the Promise Plus last-dollar assistance initiative on Friday.
The initiative, a program set to begin in fall 2020, will cover the remainder of a first-time, full-time student’s tuition costs not covered through other financial aid, such as the Pell Grant and HOPE Scholarship. To be eligible, students must apply for the HOPE Scholarship and maximum Pell grant and stay continuously enrolled at ETSU.
“Over the course of the fall, I had the great honor to visit high schools all across the region. High schools in Carter County, to Sullivan County, to Knox County, to here in Washington County,” Noland said at a press conference.
“And as I talk to students, parents and counselors, one of the things that they have continued to ask for is for we as a university to put programs together to help first-generation students, to help low-income students and to help students be successful and realize their dreams.”
Promise Plus will also offer free support programs for new students, which will include participation in pre-college programs such as new student orientation, Preview ETSU and early move-in to the residence halls.
Through the program, officials say students will gain more access to university mentors, academic tutoring services, career support, a first-year experience course and more. Those living on campus will be eligible to receive up to $6,000 in on-campus housing scholarships, or $1,500 annually.
Noland said university leaders have “spent considerable time envisioning a program that offers a range of pre-college and four-year benefits designed to support students and help them succeed in pursuing their dreams of earning a college degree.”
In 2014, former Gov. Bill Haslam launched the TN Promise program, offering tuition-free community and technical college to students across the state. Noland said the university wanted to create something similar specifically for ETSU.
There are a number of universities across the country with similar programs, according to Noland. He said the program will be particularly helpful to students coming from some of the most economically distressed areas in East Tennessee.
“I’m excited about the statement this provides at the beginning of a decade and the leadership role this institution will provide throughout the decade to ensure that more students from the state of Tennessee have the opportunity to realize their college dreams,” Noland said.
“We want students to make their institutional choices based on best fit, not on price, and that’s what this scholarship program will allow us to do.”
Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Joe Sherlin said the program is currently looking at about 200 eligible students but hopes to increase interest in the program through more outreach.
The initiative will be funded through a combination of state, federal and institutional funds. Sherlin said the university is also looking to pursue philanthropic support for the program.
For more information, visit www.etsu.edu/scholarships/promise-plus or email [email protected]