More than a promise

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A new initiative in Nashville, Tenn., goes beyond free tuition.

College Promise programs providing tuition-free community college have led to more students being able to enroll in college, but for many low-income students, it’s just a start. Other expenses, such as fees, textbooks and transportation, can be huge hurdles to success. Tennessee is one of the first states to provide tuition-free college with the Tennessee Promise program. Now, in Nashville, a new initiative builds on that program to provide financial assistance and other supports beyond tuition.

Nashville GRAD: Getting Results by Advancing Degrees is modeled after the evidence-based program CUNY ASAP. The initiative will offer comprehensive support to eligible students through financial assistance, personalized individual mentorship, academic and career advising, and by fostering a strong cohort environment. Strong data measurement and outcomes monitoring will be key components of Nashville GRAD’s program management.

“Increasing access to higher education is providing greater opportunity for our citizens, but to truly create student success, we must increase college completion rates,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a press release.

Beginning in fall 2019, Nashville GRAD will be implemented through a financial assistance fund that will include an annual financial commitment from Metro Government and, when fully implemented, will serve more than 3,000 students each year. Mayor David Briley has committed to up to $1 million in Metro’s FY2019-2020 budget and up to $2.5 million annually after that. Briley and the Nashville State Community College Foundation also are seeking financial commitments from local businesses who believe in the importance of developing Nashville’s workforce and closing the city’s equity gaps.

Nashville GRAD will increase the number of students successfully graduating from Nashville State Community College in three years to at least 50 percent and increase Tennessee College of Applied Technology industry certifications to 66 percent by 2023.

“We know that obtaining a degree or credential after high school can raise a person’s lifetime income by one-third, and by 2020, 60 percent of jobs will require some type of postsecondary degree,” Briley said at the recent announcement of the program. “Giving Nashvillians the assistance they need to successfully reach this goal is vital to Nashville’s long-term prosperity.”


AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.