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Tennessee Reconnect

Courtesy of Volunteer State Community College

Community colleges in Tennessee are likely to see an influx of adult students as they start classes in the coming days, thanks to the official rollout of the Tennessee Reconnect grant. Higher education officials say the number of adult learners at some colleges could increase by 50 or 60 percent. 

TN Photo Services

Helping Tennesseans go to college takes more than giving them free tuition: That's one of the takeaways from a report released Monday by Complete Tennessee, a nonprofit that tracks higher education in the state.

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The governor is signing the Tennessee Reconnect Grant into law Wednesday — his signature education bill of the year. It guarantees free community college for any adult over the age of 25 or who qualifies as "independent." As a result, colleges are trying to figure out how they can accommodate an influx of adult students.

Emily Siner / WPLN

The governor's proposal to make community college free for most adults in Tennessee is in the final stages of discussion. It's widely expected to pass the state legislature this week.

Emily Siner / WPLN

The first day of college is daunting anyway, but Michelle Griffith felt especially out of place. It was August 2015 when she walked into the sleek, glass-paneled atrium of Motlow State Community College in Smyrna. She was in her early 50s.

Stephen Jerkins / WPLN

Last week, Governor Bill Haslam announced a plan to provide free community college for everyone.


It's an extension of Tennessee Promise, the program of tuition-free community college enjoyed by recent high school graduates.

Tennessee Reconnect / via Facebook

Time and money.

Two things that, for most working Tennesseans, there's never enough of.

Tony Kinkel, the president of Motlow State Community College, says it's hard to decide which is the bigger hurdle.

Stephen Jerkins / WPLN

Gov. Bill Haslam wants to expand his program to provide free community college to all Tennesseans.

That was the biggest revelation to come out of his annual State of the State address.

TN Photo Services

Colleges and universities across Tennessee are trying to make it easier for adults with some college credit to go back to school. Nearly 40 public and private schools met this week to discuss a $1.1 million program called Tennessee Reconnect + Complete, part of the state’s ongoing plan to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with degrees.

Emily Siner / WPLN (File photo)

More than 9,000 Tennessee adults have signed up for free technical college under Tennessee Reconnect, a new statewide grant that covers tuition at any of the state’s 27 colleges of applied technology. State officials are calling it a marketing success.

Students at technical colleges, or TCATs, earn certificates and degrees in fields including welding, cosmetology or information technology. The schools don't have big advertising budgets, says associate vice-chancellor Carol Puryear, and instead rely mostly on word-of-mouth recruiting.