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Tennessee Implements Initiatives to Boost College Completion Among Adult Learners

State seeks to achieve 55% educational attainment goal by 2025.

A new report from the Lumina Foundation reveals that 54% of working-age Americans have earned a degree or certificate after high school, which is vital to obtaining a good job in today’s economy. While Tennessee is just below the national average, at 47.3%, it has implemented several initiatives to encourage adult learners to complete their degrees. These include the Tennessee Reconnect Grants, financial aid, and college-specific support programs.

The Tennessee Reconnect Grant is one such initiative that enables an adult to complete an associate degree tuition-free. Financially needy students may also receive the Tennessee Student Assistance Award, while the Hope nontraditional scholarship is available for adults who want to earn a bachelor’s degree. Recent legislation, Senate Bill 2405, has also opened up the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship to adults who have not completed a college degree, with the qualifying age set at 23.

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To meet its educational attainment goal of equipping 55% of Tennesseans with a college degree or certificate by 2025, the Volunteer State is increasing its focus on the importance of attainment and the value of college.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research’s recent study found that employment growth in higher-paying college-level jobs has been faster in Tennessee, both before and after the pandemic. To achieve this goal, Tennessee is also implementing the Reconnect Navigator program, which offers free career-exploration tools, a single point of contact, and assistance with understanding financial aid and college costs to adult learners.

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