By Governor Bill Haslam
Many adults in Tennessee may regret not going to college, or regret not finishing college after starting.
Many may have had every intention of finishing college, but life got in the way, and circumstances didn’t allow them to complete their education. Then it became difficult to go back. And for many of them, even if they wanted to go back to school, they may have felt they couldn’t afford it.
But we are addressing all that with Tennessee Reconnect, a program where adults in Tennessee without a college degree can enroll and earn an associate degree or technical certificate free of tuition and mandatory fees.
The application is now available for Tennessee Reconnect, and we’re excited for what it means to Tennesseans and their families. We’re also excited about what more people with college credentials can do with greater earning power and ultimately what it can do for the quality of the workforce in our state.
Tennessee Reconnect is the most recent major addition to our Drive to 55, where our goal is to have 55 percent of Tennesseans with a college degree or credential by 2025. Tennessee Reconnect follows our groundbreaking Tennessee Promise program, where recent high school graduates are finding the opportunity to go to college free of tuition and fees. Tennessee Promise has changed the conversation at kitchen tables across our state about the potential of entering higher education. Tennessee Reconnect can have the same effect for adults who wish they could go back and do things differently.
We encourage Tennesseans who want to reconnect with higher education in Tennessee to apply for a last-dollar scholarship that can put them on a better track in the job market. The application involves four simple steps:
- Complete the application at www.TNReconnect.gov;
- Apply to your local community college or eligible Tennessee Reconnect institution;
- File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at FAFSA.ed.gov; and
- Enroll in a degree or certificate program at least part-time.
To be eligible, 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 an independent student on the FAFSA. It’s not too late. You can not only go back to get a degree, you can go back and get a degree tuition-free.
This is an exciting time for higher education in Tennessee. We’re getting attention across the nation for the opportunities we are providing people who want to be a part of higher education. There has never been a better time to reconnect with your college dreams. Please visit www.TNReconnect.gov for more information. Your opportunity is happening now.