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Tennessee to Expand Tuition-Free College Program


At a time when some states are cutting back on their investment in education, Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee is expanding on the state’s college education initiative (TennesseePromise.gov) by extending tuition-free education to adults through the Tennessee Reconnect program.

Integral to education access is the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act — “legislation to increase broadband access to Tennessee’s unserved citizens.”

These initiatives are resulting in a more educated and skilled workforce, which causes Tennessee to be more desirable for industry and business. Such conditions boost the state economy, which creates a better environment for everyone. This results in greater opportunities, improved health, reduced incarceration rates, and overall better quality of life. Hopefully other states will follow Tennessee’s example.

Learn more by reading the press release and watching the videos below. (source)

Tennessee Reconnect – Video

Governor Bill Haslam announces the Tennessee Reconnect program.

Tennessee Promise – Video

Governor Bill Haslam explains the Tennessee Promise initiative.

Press Release

Haslam: Community College Tuition-Free for All Tennesseans
Reconnect to offer last-dollar scholarship for adults without degrees to attend community college
Monday, January 30, 2017 | 6:23pm

NASHVILLE – In his seventh State of the State address to the General Assembly, Gov. Bill Haslam introduced his proposal to make Tennessee the first state in the nation to offer all Tennessee adults without a degree access to community college tuition-free – and at no cost to taxpayers.

If the Tennessee Reconnect Act is approved, Tennessee would become the first state in the nation to offer all citizens – both high school students and adults – the chance to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees.

“Just as we did with Tennessee Promise, we’re making a clear statement to families: wherever you might fall on life’s path, education beyond high school is critical to the Tennessee we can be,” Haslam said. “At the end of the day, there is no higher potential for providing more opportunity for our citizens than increasing access to high quality education. And the point is, we’re doing it while maintaining discipline and responsibility to the taxpayer – keeping taxes and debt low and saving for when the economy ultimately slows.”

Launched in 2013, the Drive to 55 is the governor’s effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. Currently, Tennessee needs 871,000 post-secondary degrees or certificates to reach 55 percent, but mathematically there’s no way to reach that goal by only serving high school students. There are 900,000 adults in Tennessee that have some college but no degree.

Tennessee adults without a certificate can already attend Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) tuition-free under the Reconnect program, and the governor’s Tennessee Reconnect Act would add community colleges into the program. Click here for information on the Reconnect proposal.

The governor also unveiled tonight the Tennessee STRONG (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) Act, establishing a four-year pilot program for eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard to receive a last-dollar tuition reimbursement toward a first-time bachelor’s degree.

The Reconnect and STRONG acts are the final two pieces of NextTennessee, Haslam’s 2017 legislative agenda aimed at building and sustaining economic growth and the state’s competitiveness for the next generation of Tennesseans.

The governor also released his Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget proposal. The $37 billion proposal makes significant investments in teachers, K-12 schools, higher education, state employees, the state’s Rainy Day Fund and the tax cuts included in the governor’s IMPROVE Act. For a second year in a row, and the second year in Tennessee recorded history, the state budget does not take on any new debt.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com

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