While College Promise programs are motivating recent high school graduates to attend college, most don’t extend to adults looking to return to college. Tennessee Reconnect changes that.
When the Tennessee Promise program launched, the goal was to get more high school students enrolled in college. It was part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, which looks to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025. (Right now, that number is at about 39 percent.)
Tennessee Reconnect will help with that goal. It targets the more than 900,000 working-age adults statewide who have some college credit but did not earn a degree.
The program encourages those adults to return to college to earn a degree or certificate and allows every Tennessee resident to attend technical school or college without having to pay tuition. Applications are now open for adults who want to enroll in college this fall. As with the Promise program, it’s a last-dollar scholarship and students must complete the FAFSA.
For those adults wary of getting back into the classroom, many communities have already created a Tennessee Reconnect Community Center — a place where adult students can get advising, career exploration tools and help understanding financial aid and college costs.
The program already has been piloted in different communities throughout the state, with success. Pellissippi State Community College, for example, piloted the Reconnect Now program. Those currently receiving the last-dollar scholarship will be rolled into Tennessee Reconnect this year.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Promise program is showing promising results. The first cohort of Tennessee Promise students had a success rate of 56.2 percent. The national average is just 17 percent. And Tennessee’s FAFSA filing rate increased from 60 percent in 2014 to 73.5 percent.