Applications for the Tennessee Reconnect program, a new initiative providing free tuition for adults to enroll in community college or technical school, are now open, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday.
The program builds off the Tennessee Promise program, which provides recent high school graduates two years of tuition-free community or technical college.
Tennessee Reconnect will do the same thing for adults, establishing a last-dollar scholarship for them to earn an associate degree or technical certificate free of tuition or mandatory fees.
“We want to send a clear message that wherever you fall on life’s path, you have the opportunity to earn an education beyond high school,” Haslam said in a news release.
“By 2025, at least half the jobs in our state will require a college degree or certificate. Tennessee will lead in creating highly-skilled jobs if we make sure that Tennesseans are ready for those jobs, and there is no smarter investment than increasing access to high quality education.”
The application for Tennessee Reconnect can be found at TNReconnect.gov.
To be eligible for the program, a student must not already hold an associate or bachelor’s degree, must be a Tennessee resident for at least one year and be determined as an independent student on the FAFSA federal student aid form.
A state-wide marketing campaign also launched on Thursday to promote the opportunity to apply for Tennessee Reconnect through television commercials and digital advertisements.
Both the Tennessee Reconnect and Tennessee Promise programs fall under the Drive to 55, the governor’s initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with a post-secondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.
Students who participate in the Tennessee Promise program are more likely to succeed in college than their peers, according to recently released data from the Tennessee Board of Regents.
The board found that 56 percent of Tennessee Promise students who entered college in 2015, the program’s first year, had graduated, transferred to a four-year university or remained in school two years later.
Only 39 percent of recent high school graduates outside of Tennessee Promise had done the same.