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Lawmakers work to bring free community college to Tennessee adults

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Tennessee Reconnect Act making way through state legislature, giving hope to Tennessee adults trying to afford to go back to school.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission reports that some 900,000 adults have some college but no degree.

Laura Ward is the Director of The Reconnect Middle Tennessee Community and works for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

"Adults who qualify for the Reconnect grant would get free community college," Ward said. "They'd take up to five years to compete an associates degree, and they can take up to 12 hours of free classes per year with the grant."

Governor Haslam announced the TN Reconnect Act was announced in January. His goal is increasing the percentage of people with higher education degrees to 55 percent by the year 2025.

The current rate is about 39 percent. Haslam's plan would be open to any adult who has lived in Tennessee for at least a year and does not have an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Sandra Timberlake took part in the original TN Reconnect grant and attended a 12 month program at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in 2015.

She graduated in 2016, and is now 12 college credits shy of receiving her bachelors degree at Lipscomb University.

"I wanted to go back to school to become a more valuable employee," Timberlake said.

Timberlake said the Governor's Reconnect expansion is just what adults need in Tennessee.

"As a parent of four and a wife, you think 'can you really afford to go back to school?'That's your first thought, but I did it," Timberlake said.

The Tennessee Reconnect Act has passed the House and makes its next stop in the Senate Finance Committee.

For more information on Tennessee Reconnect click here.

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