Haslam Signs Tennessee STRONG Act

Legislation provides tuition free higher education for eligible Tennessee National Guard Members
Friday, May 26, 2017 | 10:58am

NASHVILLE – In front of military personnel of the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard at the Tennessee Department of Military, Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday signed the Tennessee STRONG Act that provides tuition free higher educational opportunities for eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard and supports the Drive to 55 goal to increase the number of Tennesseans with a degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.

The Tennessee STRONG (Support, Training and Renewing Opportunity for National Guard) Act creates a four-year pilot program for members of the Tennessee National Guard. Eligible members will qualify for tuition reimbursement toward a first time bachelor’s degree.

The legislation is part of Haslam’s NextTennessee legislative plan aimed at building and sustaining economic growth and the state’s competitiveness for the next generation of Tennesseans.

“From the fight against terror in Afghanistan to helping communities here in Tennessee recover from devastating tragedies, our soldiers and airmen protect us at home and abroad, and the Tennessee STRONG Act will provide them with the opportunity to attend our public universities and colleges tuition free,” Haslam said. “I thank Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Reps. David Hawk and Tilman Goins for carrying this bill and the General Assembly for their overwhelming support and partnership to help our National Guardsmen earn college degrees.”

The STRONG Act will grant the Tennessee National Guard consistency for recruiting and will increase its competitiveness with national guards in surrounding states.

The General Assembly unanimously passed HB 530/SB 1216 in April with the Senate voting 31-0 on April 3, and the House of Representatives voting 97-0 on April 10.