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News in higher education

Tennessee Comptroller and APSU alumnus John Morgan urged lawmakers last week to take advantage of the opportunity they have to pay for education improvements, in particular reworking the state's school funding formula.

"Because the economy is doing well, tax revenue is doing reasonably well, I think there is an opportunity today that we may not have again in the near future to make some significant improvements to the BEP (Basic Education Program)," Morgan told the Senate Education Committee.
Tennessee Comptroller and APSU alumnus John Morgan urged lawmakers last week to take advantage of the opportunity they have to pay for education improvements, in particular reworking the state's school funding formula.

"Because the economy is doing well, tax revenue is doing reasonably well, I think there is an opportunity today that we may not have again in the near future to make some significant improvements to the BEP (Basic Education Program)," Morgan told the Senate Education Committee.

Gov. Phil Bredesen has said changes to the BEP will be considered before the legislative session ends. He is proposing to triple the state's cigarette tax to 60 cents per pack, largely to pay for increased education funding.

State and local governments share K-12 education expenses under the formula. It was created in 1992 after courts ruled that the state's old formula unconstitutionally deprived children in poorer counties of an adequate education.

Bredesen said he wants to consider ways to make the formula more modern and more transparent. (The Associated Press, April 26, 2007)

A special panel has recommended dropping the minimum grade-point average that college students must maintain to keep their state lottery scholarships, but the idea is drawing mixed reviews from Tennessee lawmakers.

Gov. Phil Bredesen and state lawmakers called for a review of the lottery scholarship program earlier this year after the Tennessee Higher Education Commission issued a report showing that three out of four students are losing the scholarship before they graduate because of poor college grades.

To qualify for a scholarship, a student must have a high school GPA of 3.0 or score 21 on the ACT college entrance test. To keep it, students must be enrolled full time and have a college GPA of at least 2.75 after their freshman year and a 3.0 GPA for subsequent years.

The panel wants to drop the latter figure to 2.75, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press. It also explored lowering the 3.0 GPA needed to qualify for a scholarship but decided not to after polling school counselors who noted that lowering academic requirements would have a negative impact. (The Associated Press, April 23, 2007)