Progressives like Bernie Sanders have created the narrative that only the left-wing of the Democratic Party care about providing free education, but it has become more of a mainstream position.
Republican lawmakers in Tennessee passed legislation on Wednesday approving free community college for all adults, reported CNN.
Gov. Bill Haslam (R- Tenn.) championed the project during his state of the state earlier this year with the goal of having a majority of Tennessee residents with a college degree by 2025. As of 2016, less than 39 percent of people in the state had gone to college.
“If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs,” Haslam said in a statement. “There is no smarter investment than increasing access to high-quality education.”
To enroll in free college students must be a resident of Tennessee for at least a year, maintain a 2.0 GPA, enroll in enough classes to be a part-time student, and apply for Federal Student Aid first.
The whole program is expected to cost about $10 million annually and will be paid for by taxes on the lottery.
Students are will save about $3,700 annually, which is the average cost to be educated at one of Tennessee’s 13 community colleges.
Tennessee’s new law is by far the most “progressive” of any state in the union, far more than New York’s recently passed law which is filled with financial caps and loopholes that benefit only a few thousand students.
With Tennessee moving in that direction and finding a way to make free public college affordable, it’s possible that more Republicans will gravitate towards this issue. Who knows, the next Presidential GOP debate may sound a lot like the Democrats when it comes to higher education.