Governor to Sign Tennessee Reconnect Act Wednesday in Morristown, Smyrna and Memphis
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will make history on Wednesday as he signs the Tennessee Reconnect Act, making Tennessee the first state in the nation to offer all citizens – both high school graduates and adults – the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees and at no cost to taxpayers. Haslam will be in each of the grand divisions, holding bill signing ceremonies in Morristown, Smyrna and Memphis:
Wednesday, May 24
9 a.m. EDT – Walters State Community College, 500 South Davy Crockett Pkwy., Morristown
10:30 a.m. CDT – Motlow State Community College, 5002 Motlow College Blvd., Smyrna
2:30 p.m. CDT - Benjamin L. Hooks Central Public Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., Memphis
Building off the pioneering Tennessee Promise program, the Tennessee Reconnect Act (HB 531/SB 1218) establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend a community college tuition-free. The bill is part 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.
In 2013, Haslam launched the Drive to 55 to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. Currently, Tennessee needs 871,000 postsecondary 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 over 900,000 adults in Tennessee who have some college but no degree.
Tennessee adults without a certificate can already attend Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) tuition-free under the current Reconnect program. The Tennessee Reconnect Act adds community colleges to the program, funded through the lottery for education account.