New program lets you get technical degree tuition-free


Ben Benton, Chattanooga Times Free Press

If you’re at least 24 years old, you already qualify for tuition-free training at any one of Tennessee’s 27 Colleges of Applied Technology, according to Gov. Bill Haslam who was touting the new state program Tennessee Reconnect this week on a kick-off tour of the state that stopped in Chattanooga on Friday.

Tennessee Reconnect is an initiative program for adults that aims to gives them a way to get a post-secondary degree or certificate at any of the technology college. The program is an initiative of the Drive to 55 campaign to get at least 55 percent of Tennessee’s citizens at least a two-year degree or technical certificate by 2025 to keep pace with demands of the job market.

Haslam said currently about 32 percent of the population in Tennessee have met those standards but to reach the 55-percent goal, adults have to get involved.

According to Haslam, about 55 percent of the jobs available in Tennessee by 2025 will require a post-secondary credential.

“We’re not going to get to 55 percent without looking to adults,” he said.

Tennessee Reconnect is a last-dollar scholarship that was part of Haslam’s Tennessee Promise legislation passed in 2014 to give graduating high school seniors free tuition at a technical or community college through funds provided by the Tennessee Lottery.

Haslam said Tennessee Reconnect offers Volunteer State residents another avenue for people to go beyond their high school diploma.

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