As part of its larger Welcome Week activities for all students, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Shelbyville 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 Monday, Sept. 19.

The 2016-17 academic year that opens next week 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.

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Shelbyville campus.

Due to TN Promise and TN Reconnect, TCAT-S expanded its Industrial Maintenance and Computer Information Systems programs to provide seats for additional students.

“The first year of TN Promise and TN Reconnect made a very positive impact on our campus and on our student’s success. Knowing the community and the state are supporting our students gives us all a reason to celebrate,” TCAT-S Director Ivan Jones 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.”

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.

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