Tennessee Reconnect grant applicants numbers down

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability has released a comprehensive evaluation of the Tennessee Reconnect Grant program. The report finds that program participants earned degrees at slightly higher rates than similar students, but that a decreasing amount of Tennesseans are applying for and participating in the program.

The Tennessee Reconnect Grant was initiated by former Governor Bill Haslam and passed into law by the General Assembly in 2017 as part of the Drive to 55 initiative. Adults who have not yet earned an associate or bachelor’s degree may use the grant at a community college or other eligible institution to pursue an associate degree or technical certificate free of tuition and mandatory fees.

Comptroller analysts determined the number of applicants for Tennessee Reconnect has declined by 46% over the past three years (2018-2020).

The evaluation also showed that one in four students who entered the program lost their Reconnect grants because they did not meet program requirements. The majority of these students failed to maintain the required minimum of six credit hours per semester. When surveyed, community college administrators often cited work and family responsibilities as reason why students do not maintain enrollment requirements.

The Tennessee Reconnect Grant ensures students can attend college free of tuition and mandatory fees.