Nashville GRAD program to give financial help to students

Posted at 3:35 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 07:02:19-05

Mayor David Briley announced a new education program aimed at giving students financial assistance beyond tuition.

On Wednesday, the mayor, Nashville State Community College (NSCC), and TCAT-Nashville officials announced Nashville GRAD: Getting Results by Advancing Degrees program

The program will complement the state's programs for tuition-free college: Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect.

Nashville GRAD removes other financial barriers beyond tuition. Financial assistance will cover expenses beyond tuition, including textbooks, transportation, tools and supplies, and industry certification fees.

The program will begin Fall 2019 and will be implemented through a financial assistance fund that will include an annual financial commitment from Metro Government and, at full implementation, will serve more than 3,000 students each year.

Mayor Briley committed to including up to $1 million in Metro’s FY2019-2020 budget and up to $2.5 million annually after that

"It just blew me away" TCAT president Mark Lenz said. He added that he believes the program will have an immediate impact on his campus when it starts next fall. Last school year, only 30 percent of TCAT students took third-party certification exams. The exams can make a big difference when it comes to how much students make after graduation. 

"They didn't have the money or didn't choose to spend the money because they had other demands or needs on their lives," Lenz explained. 

“Today marks an incredibly important step toward closing equity gaps in our city, increasing economic opportunity, and investing in our workforce through access to quality education,” said Mayor David Briley. “We know that obtaining a degree or credential after high school can raise a person’s lifetime income by one-third, and by 2020, 60 percent of jobs will require some type of postsecondary degree. Giving Nashvillians the assistance they need to successfully reach this goal is vital to Nashville’s long-term prosperity.

They also announced a need for financial commitments from local business partners who believe in the importance of developing Nashville’s workforce and closing the city’s equity gaps. “I am counting on our partners in the business community to help us see this through, as well,” said the Mayor

“Increasing access to higher education is providing greater opportunity for our citizens, but to truly create student success, we must increase college completion rates. I commend Mayor Briley, Nashville State Community College and TCAT-Nashville for taking this step to ensure Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect students have the resources they need to earn postsecondary degrees and enter the workforce ready for today’s job demands,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said

Nashville GRAD is expected to increase the number of students successfully graduating from NSCC in three years to at least 50 percent and increase TCAT industry certifications to 66 percent by 2023.