As part of its larger Welcome Week activities for all students, TCAT Hartsville will hold a special celebration called “My Future’s So Bright” to welcome new and returning Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect students to campus on Friday, Sept. 23.
The 2016-17 academic year is the second year of the Tennessee Promise program, which provides two years free of tuition and most fees at Tennessee’s community colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) for new high school graduates, starting with the high school class of 2015.
The new school year marks the return of the first class of TN Promise students for their second year, and the arrival of new students from the high school Class of 2016. The separate Tennessee Reconnect program is for eligible older Tennesseans who don’t qualify for TN Promise to return to school to pursue certificates, diplomas and degrees at the TCATs and community colleges.
To underscore the “My Future’s So Bright” theme, TN Promise and Reconnect students who stop by the campus celebration will be given sunglasses and invited to write messages on large banners about their hopes and what they want to do after graduating. There’ll be a “future selfie” photo-op spot where students can photograph themselves and each other wearing graduation caps and attire or equipment associated with their future careers, and posting the photos on their favorite social media.
The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
To help the students celebrate, we have invited our legislators, local officials, economic and community development leaders along with local industries.
“It is a great time to be a Tennessee resident. Gov. (Bill) Haslam and his team has made it possible for most every Tennessean to attain a higher education degree. TCAT’s have been especially highlighted relative to training for high-skilled jobs. TCAT Hartsville offers training in the skilled areas for Tennessee to gain the competitive edge compared to other states and continue to attract quality industries,” Director Mae Perry said.
The special celebrations for Promise and Reconnect students are occurring on campuses across the Tennessee Board of Regents system.
“We wanted to make sure that Promise and Reconnect students know how much we appreciate them and the efforts they’ve made to get this far,” TBR Chancellor David Gregory said.
“We also want them to succeed, and welcoming them to campus and ensuring that they know help is available simply by asking for it are the first steps on the path to success.”
Tennessee Promise was proposed by Gov. Haslam and approved by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2014 as both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing college attendance – a key component of the Governor’s Drive to 55 initiative aimed at increasing the percentage of working-age Tennesseans with college degrees and certificates to 55 percent by 2025. Promise provides students with a last-dollar scholarship, meaning that it covers tuition and fees not covered by the federal Pell Grant, the state’s Hope Scholarship and other financial aid.
Tennessee high school graduates beginning with the Class of 2015 are eligible, and 16,291 students enrolled in the first Tennessee Promise class in fall 2015, contributing to a 10.1 percent increase in overall first-time freshman enrollment in Tennessee public higher education in the fall of 2015 over the previous year.
Although removing the financial burden is important, other Tennessee Promise requirements also are critical to student success – particularly for first-generation and minority students traditionally underrepresented in college – including the mentoring that each student receives as they navigate the college admissions and financial aid process. Each student who signs up for Tennessee Promise is assigned a mentor, most of whom are volunteers. Students must also perform eight hours of community service prior to each semester they receive TN Promise financial aid.
The application process for Tennessee Promise begins in the fall of a student’s senior year in high school. The deadline to apply for Tennessee Promise for 2017 high school graduates is Nov. 1, 2016.