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Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam talks to students as he visits the Cleveland State Community College campus on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, in Cleveland, Tenn. Monday was the first day of classes for students taking advantage of Tennessee Promise, a free tuition program.

MORE INFO

> For more information about the Tennessee Promise program, visit www.tnpromise.gov.

> For more information about the Tennessee Reconnect program, visit www.tnreconnect.gov.

> If you are a student, to apply online for one of these scholarships visit www.tn.gov/collegepays/tsac-student-portal.html.

 

Thousands of high school seniors might be scrambling to their computer Wednesday if they haven't already submitted their application for the Tennessee Promise scholarship.

With Thursday being this year's deadline to apply, here are some things you should know about Tennessee's landmark scholarship program and the upcoming deadline.

1. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1.

First-time students (or current high school seniors) entering college in the fall of 2019 have until Nov. 1 to fill out the online application for the TN Promise scholarship. Only residents of Tennessee or children with a parent or guardian in the armed forces are eligible for the program.

Students must also complete eight hours of community service and submit proof by July 1, 2019; attend a mandatory meeting in their area — typically at their high school, and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by Feb. 1, 2019.

2. Once in the program, students must remain in good standing.

TN Promise scholarship recipients are eligible for funding for up to two years at any of the state's 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology or any eligible institution offering an associate's degree program while a full-time student. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and complete eight community service hours per semester.

3. Thousands of Tennesseans have taken part in the program.

More than 13,287 TN Promise students enrolled in the state's 13 community colleges in Fall 2015, an increase from the program's first cohort in 2014. This fall, Chattanooga State enrolled 1,853 TN Promise students alone.

The TN Promise program, part of Gov. Bill Haslam's Drive to 55 initiative to increase the number of adults with post-secondary degrees or certifications, has boosted enrollment at state colleges and universities since the first cohort started college in 2014, officials say.

4. TN Promise students outperform their peers.

According to data released earlier this year, the graduation rate and the number of students who earned a community college degree or certificate within five semesters increased substantially with the first TN Promise class that entered community college in 2015.

"The success rate for the first TN Promise class through five semesters was 52.2 percent, compared to 49.9 percent of the 2014 group. The success rate is defined as students who graduated, transferred, or were still enrolled in community college through the five semesters," reads a news release.

TN Promise students are often eligible for added supports throughout the state, such as a mentoring program, and specific supports at certain colleges, such as a Bridge Camp at Chattanooga State.

"There is a free three-week summer bridge program available for TN Promise students. Students who feel like they need a little more help can sign up for the Bridge Program where they can sharpen their math, English, and writing skills while becoming familiar with our beautiful campus, " Brad McCormick, assistant vice president of student affairs at Chattanooga State, said via a statement.

5. The Tennessee HOPE Scholarship and the Tennessee Reconnect program also are available to help Tennesseans complete a post-secondary education.

For students who aren't first-time college students or who don't want to complete their post-secondary education at a community college, there are scholarships available to them as well.

The Hope Scholarship is available to high-achieving high school students who attend any Tennessee public university or college. It provides up to $1,750 per full-time enrollment semester for the first two years of college, then up to $2,250 per full-time enrollment semester as a junior and senior to students who receive the scholarship.

The TN Reconnect program, also a piece of Haslam's Drive to 55 initiative, is for adults who never went to college or earned a post-secondary degree.

University officials also note that some schools offer scholarships to prior TN Promise students when they transfer to four-year institutions or to fill other gaps at community colleges.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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