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TSAC News Bites

TSAC Loan Division Transition Memorandum

Davis YMCA Teen Achievers Program

TSAC Outreach Specialist Felicia Orr attended an event held by the Davis YMCA Teen Achievers program in Memphis. The Teen Achievers program is open to middle and high school students ages 12-17 and provides students with mentoring, guidance on preparing for college and support for a successful school-to-work transition. At the event, Teen Achievers students, along with students from the Memphis Inter-Faith Association’s College Offers Opportunities for Life program, were educated on a variety of financial aid topics and learned about various colleges and universities. Felicia Orr was on hand to answer students’ questions regarding TN Promise & Hope Scholarship eligibility and what it takes to maintain compliance for these.

Spanish Language College Night

The Metro Nashville Public Schools English Language Learners Office, Oasis College Connection, and the TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) collaborated to host Nashville's first ever Spanish Language College Night Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at Glencliff High School.  Jason Seay, Director of Outreach and College Access, represented TSAC at the event.  Approximately 125 parents and students from the Latino community in Nashville and surrounding areas participated in the event which offered great information regarding the college admissions and financial aid process.

Staff Present at TNSCALI

On Monday and Tuesday, September 28 and 29th, several TSAC staff members attended the annual Tennessee School Counselor and Administrator Leadership Institute (TNSCALI). The institute brings together over 800 school counselors and administrators with a focus on improving student and school outcomes. Keynote speakers included Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen and Trish Hatch, director of the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership at San Diego State University. Breakout sessions provided by THEC and TSAC staff included: Student Success Course: Using Online Learning to Build College Knowledge (Mary Laphen and Troy Grant), Path to College Events: Fostering Your College-Going Culture (Kate Derrick and Mary Laphen), and Financial Aid 101: Funding A College Education (Jason Seay).  Kate Watts served as an exhibitor answering questions related to The TSAC outreach team also served as an exhibitor answering questions regarding Tennessee financial aid opportunities.

College Application Week

Throughout the last week in September, 271 schools across Tennessee celebrated the state’s 8th annual College Application Week. College Application Week is intended to build excitement and enthusiasm around the college application process and provide every graduating senior with the opportunity to apply. Gallatin High School in Sumner County was recognized in the Tennessean for their College Application Week where students competed in college-themed door decorating contests and seniors completed college admission and Tennessee Promise applications. The article can be viewed online at:

Drive to 55 Summit

Monday, September 21st, Governor Haslam gathered education, industry, and political leaders from across the state to the Drive to 55 Summit to review the progress of the state’s major higher education initiatives.  Dr. Russ Deaton, TSAC Interim Executive Director was asked to be part of the participating panel of education leaders. During the summit, Governor Haslam led a discussion on the state’s higher education priorities and provided updates on Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs. Discussions were also supplemented with presentations from education leaders, including information on academic supports for first-generation students, successful adult initiatives at the University of Memphis and the statewide economic benefits of research at the University of Tennessee. Much of the focus at the summit centered on aligning K-12 and higher education for college success, the deep connection between education attainment and economic development and the future direction for the Drive to 55 initiative.

Registrar’s Roundtable at Cumberland University

Tim Phelps represented TSAC at the Registrar’s Roundtable at Cumberland University.  Tim shared information on the Drive to 55 initiatives and specific details about the Tennessee Promise Scholarship with registrars from across the state.  The timing of the roundtable meeting coincided well as the Drive to 55 Summit was held on Monday. 

College Goal Tennessee Grant Award

TSAC/THEC was awarded a grant from the National College Access Network’s College Goal Sunday initiative, with funding provided from USA Funds to support our College Goal Tennessee program. The National College Access Network assumed leadership of College Goal Sunday in June 2015.  The amount of the grant is $14,000 to be utilized September 2015-May 2016 in our continued efforts to increase FAFSA completion.

New Financial Aid Officer’s Training

TSAC sponsored the annual New Financial Aid Officer’s Training at the TCAT - Nashville for 40 new Financial Aid professionals from Tennessee colleges and universities across the state.  The agenda included information on financial aid eligibility, verification, satisfactory academic progress, the HOPE Scholarship program, TSAA Grant Program, as well as the new TN Promise Scholarship program.

FAFSA Completion Rates

Tennessee is once again #1 in the nation in FAFSA completion.  Of the 74,398 high school seniors in the state of Tennessee, 68% completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  This is an increase of 7.7% over last year, due in part to the emphasis placed on the FAFSA during the Tennessee Promise application process.  Credit can be shared with the TSAC Outreach Division and with College Goal TN volunteers.  The TSAC Outreach staff worked 257 FAFSA Nights in January and February.  In addition, there were dozens of CGT events.  Combined, TSAC personally assisted over 8,500 TN high school seniors and their parents as they completed the federal application. 

FAFSA Filing Changes

On Sunday, the White House announced two changes to the FAFSA filing process. Beginning in October 2016, students will be able to file the FAFSA as early as October 1st- rather than January - for the 2017-18 academic year. The second change is that students and parents will use prior-prior year tax information. Using prior-prior year tax information will increase the number of students who can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to populate income information on the FAFSA. As a result of the changes, students will be able to complete the FAFSA earlier and fewer students will need to update the FAFSA after the April 15th tax deadline. More information on the updates can be found here:  ​

Webinar for Educators on FSA ID

On Thursday, the Communication Services Division of TSAC co-hosted a webinar on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID with Beginning in 2015, students and parents must create an FSA ID prior to starting FAFSA. A total of 175 higher education professionals, TN Promise mentors, and high school guidance counselors across the state participated in the live webinar, which was presented by Jason Seay while Kate Watts facilitated participant questions. The seminar was a step-by-step guide to assist with the FSA ID creation process from beginning to end. For those who were unable to participate, the webinar can be accessed and watched by registering at this link:

New Appointments for Staff

Debby Nuchols, TSAC loan division default aversion field representative for East Tennessee, has recently been appointed to the Common Manual Policy Committee. First published in December 1995, the Common Manual is a cooperative effort of the nation's guarantors that currently participate in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). The manual is a resource for participants in the FFELP program and contains up-to-date federal student loan information. The resource provides standardized policy guidance for schools and lenders. The Policy Committee is responsible for the update of the manual as federal regulations and policies are changed.

Jill Vickers, TSAC loan division default aversion field representative for Middle Tennessee has been named to the Mapping Your Future Advisory Committee. Mapping Your Future is a national nonprofit organization providing college, career, financial aid, and financial literacy resources for schools, students, and families. Mapping Your Future offers its resources and products to Tennessee postsecondary institutions free of charge. 

County Profiles

Higher education, financial aid and other data from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission:

TN County Profiles

News Releases

Click on a news release date below for announcements about Lottery Scholarships:

1/18/12 - College Goal Sunday Event will Assist Tennessee Students and Parents Apply for Money to Attend College

1/7/11 - College Goal Sunday Event will Assist Tennessee Students and Parents Apply for Money to Attend College

1/25/10 - College Goal Sunday Event will Assist Tennessee Students and Parents Apply for Money to Attend College