Adults looking to become a nurse, mechanic or day care teacher will have a chance to get tuition-free training this year at one of Tennessee’s technical colleges thanks to a new pot of state funding.
The Tennessee Reconnect grant will cover eligible adults’ tuition at any of the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. All 27 TCAT locations will host open houses Saturday to answer questions and offer tours to anyone who is interested.
State lawmakers signed off on the Reconnect grant last year when they approved Tennessee Promise, which allows eligible high school seniors a tuition-free ticket to one of the state’s 13 community colleges.
Both programs represent key prongs of the Drive to 55, Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to ensure 55 percent of Tennesseans have a college education by 2025.
“We just don’t achieve the Drive to 55 without adult students returning to school,” said Mike Krause, Haslam’s choice to lead the Drive to 55 efforts.
Interested students must apply by May 15 to be eligible for the grant.
Krause expects 8,000 adults to use the Reconnect scholarship this year, including thousands of students who are already enrolled at a technical college. The grant program is estimated to cost the state $1.5 million in its first year, with existing grants and scholarships covering the lion’s share of the expenses.
Programs, which are designed to funnel students into a specific job, range in length from a few months to two years. TCAT programs have an 86 percent job placement rate, according to data provided by the state.
“A student can enter a TCAT and fundamentally change their job trajectory,” Krause said.
The grant is one of several efforts to educate adults under the Reconnect umbrella. Other Reconnect programs include a $1.5 million grant to improve colleges’ efforts to educate veterans and a pilot program offering community college scholarships to adults with some college credit.
To be eligible for the Reconnect grant, adults have to be a Tennessee resident and U.S. citizen who is not a dependent. More information is listed online at tnreconnect.gov.
Reach Adam Tamburin at 615-726-5986 or on Twitter @tamburintweets.
Visit a TCAT location between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday to learn more about the Reconnect grant and courses of study. TCAT Nashville will host an open house at the 100 White Bridge Pike campus.