Research for Action has studied statewide Promise programs since 2017, with in-depth analysis in four states—Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, and Tennessee. Our research in these states includes an extensive review of legislative and policy documents; 146 interviews with policymakers, institutional leaders, and high school staff; site visits to 8 postsecondary institutions; site visits to 12 high schools; 12 high school student focus groups; and 16 college student focus groups. We also conducted quantitative analysis on student-level data from three of the four states involved in the study. This work is part of a larger study led by RFA that also includes a policy scan of 21 current statewide programs and case studies by Penn AHEAD of local Promise programs in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin. We summarize additional results of our analysis of state-level Promise programs at www.researchforaction.org/collegepromise.
In this case study we outline the program design, successes, and challenges of Tennessee Promise as it balances higher education affordability, access, and success.