Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced a proposal that would offer tuition-free community college for any adult who doesn’t already have an advanced degree, according to The Tennessean. This would make Tennessee the only state in the nation to offer this type of program to its residents.

The new legislation, known as the Tennessee Reconnect Act, is an addition to the Tennessee Promise Program, which hands out scholarships to community college for recent high school graduates. The Reconnect Act would offer the same incentive, but to adults who graduated from high school and did not go on to earn a post-secondary degree. Currently, there are about 900,000 Tennessee residents who could take advantage of the program.

Haslam said he wants to show families that no matter where you are in life, pursuing an advanced degree is important and can be achieved. An increase in the number of college graduates would help the state’s economy, giving local companies and businesses more qualified employees. And, someone with a higher degree will earn more, giving them the income needed to make major purchases, such as buying a home or car.

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The governor also noted that these programs will still keep taxes and state debt low since the Promise program is lottery-funded.

Both programs are a big part of the governor’s Drive to 55 endeavor, which aims to increase the number of residents with post-secondary degrees to 55 percent by 2025. Right now, the state needs more than 850,000 more people to achieve the goal.

In addition to the Tennessee Reconnect Act, Haslam also announced the creation of Tennessee STRONG, a four-year pilot program that offers last-dollar tuition reimbursement to state military personnel earning a first-time bachelor's degree.

Image Copyright Jeff Reid.

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