January 17, 2018

New Complete Tennessee Survey Confirms Broad Support for Drive to 55, Tennessee Promise

Survey also finds concerns beyond tuition affect higher education attainment

NASHVILLE, TN - Complete Tennessee today released findings from a statewide survey on the state’s higher education policies and programs. While the survey confirmed broad support for the Drive to 55, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, it also suggests barriers beyond tuition may affect prospective students’ ability to pursue postsecondary opportunities.

Complete Tennessee Executive Director Dr. Kenyatta Lovett said, “Tennesseans are overwhelmingly supportive of the state’s goal to increase postsecondary attainment, but many are still not taking advantage of the programs designed to support that goal. Nearly 80 percent of Tennesseans acknowledged the critical importance of earning a postsecondary credential, yet only 10 percent of those surveyed said they or someone in their household had participated in the Tennessee Promise or Reconnect programs.

“Even more troubling, just 55 percent of respondents said they would take advantage of a low-cost or free education opportunity. This indicates barriers other than tuition remain a challenge for many prospective students, which was a central point of discussion during Complete Tennessee’s 2017 statewide listening tour. We must all make a concerted effort to help more Tennesseans understand and benefit from important programs designed to help improve access in postsecondary education.”

Conducted by North Star Opinion Research, the survey polled 600 registered Tennessee voters in November 2017. Key findings include: 

  • 78 percent of Tennesseans agree it is very important to have some college or trade school education to get and keep a good job.
  • Support for Drive to 55 is overwhelming, with 85 percent of Tennesseans expressing approval for the initiative.
  • 87 percent of Tennesseans support the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs.   
  • Three-quarters of those surveyed (76 percent) believe their workforce is not fully prepared to fill available jobs.
  • Only half (55 percent) of Tennesseans surveyed said they would take advantage of low-cost job training or education opportunities. In rural communities, that number was even lower (45 percent), with 51 percent of repondents saying they would not take advantage.
  • 48 percent of respondents said cost is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a postsecondary education. Others indicated time constraints and family obligations were major obstacles.  

Dr. Lovett continued, “In 2018, Complete Tennessee will continue working to encourage community engagement and leadership in pursuit of the state’s Drive to 55 goal. We look forward to helping local leaders and education stakeholders across the state better understand and address regional attainment challenges.” 

For an overview of the survey, click here. To view the full survey results, click here. To learn more about Complete Tennessee, visit www.completetennessee.org

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