Tennessee Reconnect offers ‘one-of-a-kind’ opportunity for residents: Education fair set for May 25 at public library

Published 7:43 pm Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, marked a historical moment in the state of Tennessee.
The state’s General Assembly passed the Tennessee Reconnect, which would allow adults in the state looking to finish their college degree and opportunity to do so, tuition-free.
McKenzie Todd, program coordinator for the Northeast Tennessee Reconnect Community, added it was an exciting time to see the passage of the Act come to fruition.
“It is very encouraging,” she said. “The state has already done a great job making postsecondary opportunities available for the state. Ever since the announcement, we’ve seen a spike of individuals signing up with the Reconnect to go back to school.”
Tennessee Reconnect is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative – 55 percent of Tennessee adults to have a degree or certification from a postsecondary institution.
Todd added that nearly 50,000 adults in Northeast Tennessee have some college credit, but no degree or credential, which is the purpose of the Community.
“As community members, local leaders, employers, and educators, we are all in a position to emphasize the importance of postsecondary education to the overall health of our community,” she said. “Making education a priority can be accomplished by changing the conversation about postsecondary education as a goal that is more achievable than ever for adults.”
Recent numbers provided by the Community indicated that 6,130 adults in Carter County have some college credit, but no degree.
To help reach the public, Todd said the Community is hosting a special education fair on Thursday, May 25, at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library’s Community room from 4 to 7 p.m.
“We’ll have representatives from different colleges on hand to talk to people,” Todd said. “We’ll also be there to talk with people about the Tennessee Reconnect.”
The coordinator added that FAFAS reps would be at the library to help individuals with financial aid.
Eligibility requirements for adults to participate in Tennessee Reconnect include:
• Not already have an associate or bachelor degree.
• Have been a Tennessee resident for at least one year preceding the date of application for the grant.
• Complete the FAFSA and be deemed an independent student
• Be admitted to an eligible institution (any of the state’s 13 public community colleges or any four-year institution that qualifies for the Tennessee education lottery scholarship, as defined by TCA 49-4-902, that offers an associate degree program) and enroll in a degree or certificate program at least part time (6 semester hours) beginning with the 2018-19 year
• Participate in an advising program approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
“You can promote education for adults in your local community.,’ Todd recently told the Elizabethton Star. “Talk to your employees, coworkers, customers, community members, family and friends about why supporting the Drive to 55 and prioritizing postsecondary education are imperative to the long-term success of our families, our community, and our entire state.”
The Community will also be at the Downtown Elizabethton Farmers Market on May 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. while also hosting an education fair at Mountain Home VA in Johnson City each first Thursday of each month beginning at 9 a.m.
For more information, visit netreconnect.org or call Todd at (423)547-7515 x 121.

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