More than 10,700 apply for tuition-free technical college



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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is taking steps to ensure 55 percent of its residents have a college education by 2025.

The Tennessee Reconnect grant is part of Gov. Bill Haslam's Drive to 55 plan that offers eligible adults the chance to receive training in nursing, cosmetology, early childcare, manufacturing and other programs from a Tennessee College of Applied Technology for free.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/1IKMMhk ) more than 10,700 adults have applied for the grant, exceeding initial estimates by more than 2,000.

The state released the grant application data last week, following Haslam's statewide campaign encouraging adults to participate.

It will take a few weeks for colleges to know how many applicants ultimately will enroll in classes.

"I'm not at all concerned about the colleges' ability to meet the challenge," Mike Krause, executive director of the Drive to 55 said. "There's not a college system better positioned in America than our TCAT system."

The state will pay only tuition and fees that aren't covered by existing grants and scholarships.

Krause said the grant is still projected to cost the state $1.5 million in its first year. Also, $5 million for extra equipment to accommodate more students at TCAT was set aside in this year's state budget.

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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The Associated Press

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