Study shows Tennessee Promise increases retention, graduation rates

Tennessee Promise, a last-dollar scholarship for high school seniors, has increased retention and graduation rates for full-time, first-time freshmen at Pellissippi State, according to a new study produced by the Postsecondary Education Research Center at the University of Tennessee in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Assessment and Planning at Pellissippi State.

“A Snapshot of Tennessee Promise: Pellissippi State Community College, 2015-2018,” the first in a series addressing Tennessee Promise at specific institutions of higher education, was published in February and unveiled in a press conference Tuesday at UT.

The study, which is available as a PDF at, has several key takeaways for Pellissippi State, says Data Analytics Technician Marisol Benitez Ramirez, who co-authored the study with Lisa G. Driscoll, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies at UT.

  • Pellissippi State’s total enrollment steadily increased during the past four years in part due to participants in Tennessee Promise, which was signed into law by former Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014.
  • Underrepresented minority student enrollment has increased among Tennessee Promise students, narrowing the gap of previous years’ enrollment to reflect the ethnicity and race of the region’s high school population.
  • In general, the implementation of Tennessee Promise has increased access to education in population subgroups.
  • Students receiving the Tennessee Promise scholarship increased attainment compared with non-Tennessee Promise students.

“That means that Tennessee Promise students attempted more credit hours, had a higher retention rate and had a higher graduation rate when compared with non-Tennessee Promise students,” Benitez explained.

Full-time, first-time freshmen who started Pellissippi State in fall 2014, before Tennessee Promise was enacted, had a three-year graduation rate of 23.5 percent, while those who started in fall 2015 had a three-year graduation rate of 30.1 percent.

“The study shows that Tennessee Promise both increases accessibility to college and provides incentive for more students to stay the course. At Pellissippi State we are happy to play a role in helping a larger group of Tennesseans earn a post-secondary credential,” said Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathryn Byrd.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.

Mike Krause is keynote speaker at Pellissippi State Commencement

Mike Krause
Mike Krause

Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, will be the keynote speaker at Pellissippi State Community College’s Commencement ceremony Friday, May 5.

Commencement will begin at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. About 800 students will earn their associate degree that night. Many of those students will be among the first class of Tennessee Promise students to graduate.

Krause will speak about the future of higher education in Tennessee and will share stories of student success at Pellissippi State.

Krause was appointed as the executive director of THEC and TSAC by Governor Bill Haslam in August 2016. Prior to assuming this role, he served as the founding executive director of Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55.

Previously, Krause served as the assistant executive director at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, leading a variety of initiatives within the Academic Affairs Division. He also served for eight years in the United States Army, where he completed three combat tours with the 101st Airborne Division. An eighth-generation Tennessean, Krause earned his bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University and master’s degree in Public Policy from Vanderbilt University.

For more information, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or

Pellissippi State receives Tennessee Promise Forward grant

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has granted Pellissippi State Community College $144,460 as part of its Tennessee Promise Forward program.

This is the second year Pellissippi State has received a Tennessee Promise Forward grant.

Tennessee Promise Forward began in 2015 with the goal of increasing retention rates among community college students, or the number of students who complete their college education once they’re enrolled. The grants are tied to retention-based services for Tennessee Promise students.

Pellissippi State will use its Tennessee Promise Forward funding to continue an “intrusive advising” model that was piloted last year at the college’s Blount County, Division Street and Hardin Valley campuses.

In an “intrusive advising” model, advisors are in continual communication with students and respond proactively when students are considered at-risk — for example, if their midterm grades are low, or if they miss a certain number of classes. As part of the constant contact model, the Advising Center uses a two-way text messaging platform to reach students in their preferred mode of communication.

“While this text advising portion of this program can be used to provide information and set up appointment times, its greatest advantage is giving students access to someone at their fingertips who can answer college-related questions whenever they arise,” said Rachael Cragle, Pellissippi State’s director of Advising.

“What’s most important is that we’re emphasizing ongoing communication with students throughout the semester, when they need it,” she added.

This year, the text advising program will be expanded to include all of Pellissippi State’s campuses.

During the pilot program last year, Pellissippi State saw more than 50 percent engagement among students through the text messaging program. More than 90 percent of the students who had three or more contacts from their advisor were retained from the fall to spring semester.

For more information about Tennessee Promise at Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.


Download this press release: TN Promise Forward Grant