Since its inception in 2008, TnAchieves has provided more than 34,000 Tennessee students the opportunity to attend community college at no cost to them.
The program began as knoxAchieves. Because of the program’s success, knoxAchieves was charged with expanding the program statewide. It is now in 23 Tennessee counties, including Claiborne, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock and Jefferson counties in the Lakeway Area.
TnAchieves is a last-dollar scholarship and mentoring program. It works with nearly 6,500 public high school seniors beginning their transition to college. The program offered scholarships to more than 23,000 students in 126 high schools.
With more than 900 volunteers recruited to work with students, TnAchieves accepted 6,482 applications this year. Of those, 5,800 —or 90 percent — of the students successfully filed FAFSA forms by the Feb. 1 deadline.
More than 68 percent of applicants are first-generation college attendees and 62 percent are from families that earn less than $50,000 annually.
Currently, more than 5,800 applicants have met all tnAchieves deadlines and remain eligible to receive a last-dollar scholarship to one of the 11 approved post-secondary institutions across Tennessee. tnAchieves scholarships are awarded in nine of the state’s community colleges and two technology centers.
The schools included in the program are Cleveland State, Dyersburg State, Jackson State, Northeast State, Pellissippi State, Roan State, Southwest Tennessee, Volunteer State and Walters State Community College. Tennessee Technology Centers of Morristown and Memphis are the two technology centers in the program.
TnAchieves partners in Hamblen County include the city of Morristown, the Hamblen County Department of Education, Hamblen County Government and HC*Excell.
“Morristown and Hamblen County are grateful to be part of the tn-Achieves program and are overwhelmed by the student response to the opportunity for accessing higher education,” said Tish Jones of HC*Excell. “We are traveling a road to a brighter future for our youth and community.”
To be eligible for the program, high school seniors must complete one community service project each semester they receive aid, check in twice per semester, continue to work with their mentor, maintain a 2.0 grade point average each college semester, carry a minimum of six college credit hours each semester and re-file the FAFSA form. Failure to comply with any of the requirements results in termination of tnAchieves funding.
TnAchieves guarantees two years or four years of consecutive semesters of community college tuition as long as the student fulfills his or her obligation to the program.
“The TnAchieves program in Hamblen County exceeded our expectations for its first year,” said Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain. “The students, parents, counselors and mentors were all engaged and did a great job helping the seniors navigate through the financial aid and college application processes. I’m interested to see how many of the high school seniors who participated finish either a two-year, four-year college degree or technical school certificate.”
The program has grown nearly 900 percent in the last year with a record number of students participating. Community support and involvement will be critical to the program’s continued success.
For more information on how to become a mentor or for general information about the program, visit www.tnachieves.org.