Tennessee Reconnect Grant Evaluation
Authors: Lauren Spires, Anna Johnson, and Jaymi Thibault
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability has released its first evaluation of the Tennessee Reconnect Grant Program. The program, which launched in 2018, allows adults who have not yet earned an associate or bachelor’s degree to attend a community college or other eligible institution free of tuition and mandatory fees. The evaluation was completed as required by state law.
The evaluation shows that while initial program enrollment exceeded expectations, the number of applicants and enrollees has decreased since 2018. One in four program participants lost eligibility, often due to work and family responsibilities. However, Reconnect students were more likely to earn an associate degree compared to similar students. Reconnect students were also more likely to earn workforce-ready and high-need degrees than their peers.
The Comptroller’s Office has developed several policy options for consideration with the goal of increasing program participation, persistence, and credential attainment. The policy options can be found in the full report.