ETSU to offer free tuition to qualifying freshmen for upcoming academic year


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Certain incoming freshmen at East Tennessee State University won’t have to worry about paying tuition for the upcoming academic year.

University officials announced Monday that first-time, full-time freshmen who are Tennessee residents and eligible for the Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA) and the Tennessee HOPE (Lottery) Scholarship would not have to pay tuition for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.

“They will not pay tuition for this upcoming academic year which tuition…is approximately $4,500 per semester. So, you’re looking at a savings of approximately $9,000,” said Caleb Bennett, the Assistant Director for Recruitment.

Students’ eligibility is based on information received from their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

“If we received their FAFSA, we are contacting them. For those students who have not put us down as a school on their FAFSA, they need to make sure they put ETSU as the school down on their FAFSA,” said Dr. Sam Mayhew, the Assistant VP for Student Life and Enrollment.

This year has looked different for high school seniors and ETSU wants to help ease the stress.

“They’re missing a lot of these celebrations at the end of their senior year and we want to give them something to look forward to here at ETSU but also for the next four years,” said Dr. Mayhew.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, university officials have been looking at ways to make ETSU an option for everyone.

“With the ETSU Promise Plus, with not raising tuition in the fall…I think all of these are kind of big push..all in line with one another in wanting to make ETSU an affordable option,” said Bennett.

The efforts extend beyond the Tri-Cities.

“We’ve been working on how to put this program together. Obviously, we’re here to serve our region and this is a statewide function,” said Dr. Mayhew.

Students can also continue to apply for other scholarships to offset other costs such as housing and books.

“If they want to use those towards housing or other things…that’s absolutely an option. Sometimes state funds such as HOPE and TSAA…they’re are some limitations but as far actual scholarships the students may be receiving they can use those as well,” said Bennett.

These options create more opportunities for David Crockett High School Counselor Lorie McCorkle’s students.

“Sometimes, their dream school is a school that is out of reach financially so they give up on attending in the fall,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to get to start where they wanted to start and start in that four-year school that has the program that they wanted to study.”

She says taking the financial burden of college away gives students more ability to stimulate the economy.

“The hardest part for a lot of kids now…is you graduate from college and you have so much student debt that really limits your ability to make large purchases,” McCorkle said. “It’s exciting to me that they could start into a new career and be able to have all of those funds to be able to put into the economy and into achieving things like their own home much sooner.”

ETSU is still accepting students for the upcoming academic year.

“There is still plenty of time to be able to apply, submit your FAFSA and to be considered for a variety of ETSU scholarships,” said Bennett.

McCorkle says submitting the FAFSA can be overwhelming to some so she suggests reaching out to your high school counselor for guidance.

“A lot of people get very intimidated with all the tax information you have to have but certainly it is doable especially if you reach out to your resources and let them help you get it done quickly,” said McCorkle.

More information is available on ETSU’s website.

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