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Tenn. Senator seeks more funds for lottery scholars

Tennessee LotteryTennessee Lottery: Tenn. Senator seeks more funds for lottery scholars

A state lawmaker's crusade to increase the amount of Tennessee's lottery scholarships is raising concerns among his colleagues and the governor, who say giving full scholarships this early in the program may create a financial crisis down the road.

Sen. Steve Cohen, the main sponsor of the bill that created the scholarships last year, said he wants them to fully cover tuition at the state's colleges and universities.

Currently, scholarships cover about 75% of students' tuition and fees.

Cohen, a Memphis Democrat, pushed last year for increasing the awards for students at four-year colleges to $4,000 and to $2,000 for two-year college students, but lawmakers were hesitant to commit too much money to a program just in its second year.

"It's the people's money," said Cohen, who lobbied for a state lottery for decades before voters approved the games in 2002. "The money should go to the people and not just be put in some type of reserve account."

The lottery account has $201 million now, state officials said. To qualify for a lottery scholarship, Tennessee high school graduates must have a 3.0 GPA or 21 on the ACT assessment test.

This year, the second year the scholarships were available, awards for students at four-year schools increased by $300 to $3,300 and by $150 to $1,650 for students at two-year schools.

Cohen said he will try for another increase when the General Assembly convenes next month.

But some lawmakers say giving full scholarships this early in the program's history may hurt the state in the long run.

"We certainly don't need to get in a position where we have created some expectation that three or four years from now we can't meet," said Sen. David Fowler, R-Signal Mountain. "Promising a full scholarship at this early stage is not a good idea."

Lydia Lenker, spokeswoman for Gov. Phil Bredesen, said the governor has no plans to propose legislation concerning the lottery during the upcoming session.

"This past session, a good first step was made to address the governor's concerns about extending the scholarships to nontraditional students," she said in an e-mailed statement. "The governor continues to stress fiscal responsibility to ensure the state doesn't end up with a deficit."


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5 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by Chewie.
Page 1 of 1
New Mexico
United States
Member #12305
March 10, 2005
2984 Posts
Posted: December 28, 2005, 8:42 am - IP Logged

75% of tuition and fees sounds like a middling good deal for student who maintain a 3.0 GPA.  Gives them a good solid nudge along, but doesn't make it so easy they don't have to want it badly enough to pay some of their own way.

"This past session, a good first step was made to address the governor's concerns about extending the scholarships to nontraditional students,"

That's the part I find a bit questionable.  Those 'non-traditional' students tend to be working people struggling to better their educations the hard way.  They're probably the ones who need the most help and encouragement, since they often have families and full-time jobs while they're struggling along squeezing in study time wherever they can.

Which is to say they ain't living in dorms on papa's savings, football gaming, fraternitying, and drinking down at the watering hole.  They're just leaning into the grind and trying every semester to keep it going.


Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

It's about number behavior.

Egos don't count.


Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser


    Bradly_60's avatar - disney37
    Atlantic Mine, Michigan
    United States
    Member #416
    June 23, 2002
    1614 Posts
    Posted: December 28, 2005, 9:10 am - IP Logged

    75%......who the hell could complain about that.  School must be cheap down there in TN.  I wish Michigan paid that much.  This year alone I will be paying over $8,000 for college and I am an in state resident.  75% of that would be a miracle to get.



      Tnplayer805's avatar - G 14_v78828750_Small.JPG
      North Dakota
      United States
      Member #13397
      April 5, 2005
      1623 Posts
      Posted: December 28, 2005, 12:43 pm - IP Logged

      I'm from TN; however, I go to an AL school.  My tuition is $8,500 a year.  My friend goes to Middle TN and she has to pay about the same... 

      How are you going to win if you don't play?

        mylollipop's avatar - Trek STLOGO6.png

        United States
        Member #24380
        October 21, 2005
        623 Posts
        Posted: December 28, 2005, 6:47 pm - IP Logged

        Aaagghhh, give the students a break---traditional or non-traditional.  Eventually they will make more money to put in your coffers anyway!Party

          Sparta, NJ
          United States
          Member #18331
          July 9, 2005
          1977 Posts
          Posted: December 30, 2005, 2:28 pm - IP Logged

          It is amazing that legislatures never quit finding a way to allocate money, especially to potential voters.  When in doubt, spend more.  The citizens should have a law that allows them the say finanial escapes as the states do.  Overspend, take money from state couffers and use it to cover your inability to manage.  Works for me!


          |||::> *'`*:-.,_,.-:*''*:--->>> Chewie  <<<---.*''*:-.,_,.-:*''* <:::|||

          I only trust myself - and that's a questionable choice