With State Support Now Tied to Completion, Tennessee Colleges Must Refocus

Completion Is New Key to Cash for Tennessee Colleges 1

Josh Anderson for The Chronicle

Kevin Ragland, an associate professor of biology at Nashville State Community College, says Tennessee's new system of state support for higher education doesn't take into account the way students use two-year institutions.

Before last year, public colleges in Tennessee had a very good reason to fill classroom seats through the first couple of weeks of the term. Each institution's share of the state appropriations for higher education was largely based on enrollment at that point in the semester.

Now, however, those colleges stand to lose state money if students don't complete the courses they enroll in, as well as the degrees they are seeking.

Under a 2010 law, Tennessee became the first state