Walters State student reflects  on impact of Tennessee Promise

Jordan Howerton will graduate in May from Walters State with an associate of applied science in nursing. Her education has been funded through several scholarships, enabling her to avoid a student loan. One of those scholarships, Tennessee Promise, has a Nov. 1 application deadline for high school seniors.

The first day of November could be life-changing for high school seniors. Members of the Class of 2022 must complete the Tennessee Promise application by that date.

The popular scholarship gives high school graduates two years tuition-free at community colleges, including Walters State.

Does it sound too good to be true? It’s not.

“I haven’t paid anything. Scholarships and financial aid have paid for everything,” said Jordan Howerton, a sophomore nursing student at Walters State.

“When I heard about Tennessee Promise, I was excited about earning a nursing degree without going in debt. To be honest, I would have attended Walters State anyway because of the reputation of its nursing program,” Howerton said.

The Tennessee Promise application takes about five minutes and can be completed at www.tennesseepromise.gov. Students must also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA application determines student aid for a variety of programs, including Tennessee Promise, the Tennessee Hope Lottery Scholarship and the Pell Grant.

The FAFSA application can be completed at www.fafsa.gov.

“We encourage everyone to apply for Tennessee Promise,” Heather Waddell, coordinator of Financial Aid-Scholarship and Campus-Based Aid, said.

“Students are often unsure which college they want to attend or if they even want to go to college. Completing the Tennessee Promise application does not obligate you to attend.

However, if you decide to attend later and did not complete the application, Tennessee Promise funds will not available for you,” Waddell said.

Waddell stressed the need for students to complete the FAFSA application. At one time, the FAFSA only determined need-based aid like the Pell grant.

Now, students must complete the FAFSA to receive not only Tennessee Promise, but also the Hope Lottery Scholarship. Neither of these are based on need.

Howerton received the Tennessee Promise during her freshman year, but has since received more scholarships.

Those include the Tennessee Hope Lottery Scholarship; the Olen Marshall Scholarship, given through the Walters State Foundation; and the Walters State Promise Scholarship, an institutional award.

“Going to college without paying tuition is great, but it’s just one of the factors that led me to choose Walters State. I love the small class sizes. I’ve made many friends here. I know I’ll get a good job in the nursing field when I graduate,” Howerton said.

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