Complete College America to provide $1 million for innovation to speed student success

From Governor Haslam's Newsroom: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that the state has been awarded $1 million to fuel policy innovations and reforms aimed at significantly increasing college completion. The grant is provided by Complete College America as part of its national Completion Innovation Challenge grant competition.

A national non-profit organization focused solely on working with states to significantly boost college completion, Complete College America established the grant competition to inspire and enhance state efforts. Funding support for the grant program was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“This is exciting news that complements our continued focus on improving education in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “On behalf of Tennesseans, we appreciate Complete College America and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making this investment to support our efforts.”

Governors from all 50 states were invited to submit proposals to win one of ten $1 million, 18-month implementation grants for innovative, high-impact college completion initiatives designed to enhance student success and close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. Thirty-three states ultimately entered the highly competitive contest. As a winning state, Tennessee was determined to have one of the nation’s most promising strategies to smooth and shorten pathways to college completion for all students.

“Governor Haslam gets it: doing more of the same will not boost student success or get Tennessee the additional college graduates it must have to be competitive,” Complete College America President Stan Jones said. “ It’s long past time for bold innovation in higher education to remove unnecessary obstacles to success, fix broken policies that hold students back, speed achievement and redesign pathways to college graduation for the new majority of students who must balance work and school.”

“Tennessee’s innovative Complete College initiative promises to significantly increase college completion, saving students precious time and money – and giving taxpayers more of what they expect from their hard-earned investments in higher education: college graduates,” added Jones.

Tennessee’s winning proposal includes three components: First, an initiative to expand access to the Adaptive Advising Tool, a transformative technology developed at Austin Peay State University that uses an algorithm based on prescriptive analytics to provide tailored course recommendations to students – based not just on degree requirements but on likelihood of success in the course. Second, an effort to develop tools for students and campuses to evaluate and award credit for prior learning, which should make it easier for adults to earn a college degree and thereby aid the state’s overall efforts to increase educational attainment. Third, funding for “completion academies” that will help Tennessee institutions develop innovative strategies for meeting their specific completion targets.

The grant will be administered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) with a leadership team that includes representatives from the Governor’s Office, Tennessee General Assembly, Tennessee Business Roundtable, THEC, and the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Board of Regents systems.

From TBR Chancellor John Morgan: "We're very grateful to Complete College America for helping us maintain our forward momentum. The initiatives this grant will fund will directly enhance and promote our completion agenda."

For more information, contact TOM SUGAR with Complete College America at 317-726-7119

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.