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Undocumented students not included in Tennessee's free community college program

Students work out math problems during a class for Hispanic adults, Wednesday, March 16, 2005, at Cary High School in Cary, N.C.  Even among Hispanics 16-to-19 who were educated entirely in the United States, 15 percent nationally are dropouts, compared with 12 percent for blacks and 8 percent for whites.   (AP Photo/ Karl DeBlaker)

Students work out math problems during a class for Hispanic adults, Wednesday, March 16, 2005, at Cary High School in Cary, N.C. Even among Hispanics 16-to-19 who were educated entirely in the United States, 15 percent nationally are dropouts, compared with 12 percent for blacks and 8 percent for whites. (AP Photo/ Karl DeBlaker)  ((AP Photo/ Karl DeBlaker))

Undocumented high school students will not be able to take advantage of Tennessee Promise, the state's new free community college program.

The Nashville NPR station, WPLN-FM, reports before getting state funding, students must apply for federal financial aid. But undocumented students are not eligible for it.

Some immigrants had hoped it would be different. The governor's speech introducing Tennessee Promise said that "every student" would be able to attend two years of community college or college of applied technology for free.

A spokeswoman for the governor said he was referring only to eligible students. 

Tennessee has about 6,000 high school students who are undocumented, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

If they want to attend community college, they have to pay out-of-state rates — about $14,000 a year in tuition and fees.

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