One Pager: Tennessee STRONG Act
Support, Training and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen
The Tennessee STRONG (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) Act establishes a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard tuition funding toward a first time bachelor degree for the next four years through a tuition reimbursement program. The STRONG Act provides educational opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country and supports the Drive to 55 goal of equipping 55 percent of Tennesseans with a degree or certificate by 2025.
Why Tennessee STRONG?
The STRONG Act provides consistency for recruiting, increases competitiveness with surrounding states and expands opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country.
- Recruitment: Enables recruiters to relay consistent information to new recruits regarding guaranteed tuition reimbursement in specific amounts for eligible members. In past years, under the existing Tennessee National Guard Tuition Assistance Act of 2004, the amount of funding for tuition has fluctuated with whatever amount has been appropriated.
- Competitiveness: Makes the Tennessee National Guard more competitive with surrounding states. All but four states nationwide, and all states adjacent to Tennessee, already offer 100 percent state tuition assistance.
- Opportunity: Offers a funding mechanism to increase the educated population in Tennessee for those who currently serve in the Tennessee National Guard by filling the gap between the availability of federal tuition assistance and the amount needed to pay for tuition.
What are the eligibility requirements for the tuition reimbursement program?
To be eligible, the individual must:
- Be admitted to and enroll in an eligible institution (any Tennessee public community college, public university, or private college or university, all of which must be regionally accredited)
- Individuals attending private institutions will be reimbursed for the average cost at a public institution.
- Maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0
- An individual who loses eligibility for failing to maintain a 2.0 grade point average may regain eligibility upon maintaining a 2.0 grade point average in a subsequent semester.
- Apply for and use federal tuition assistance
- Be in good standing with the Tennessee National Guard and currently serving
- Apply for the reimbursement within 90 days of course completion
As a last-dollar reimbursement, the amount of state tuition reimbursement is offset by any other funds received. The tuition reimbursement will be made to the educational institution on behalf of an eligible member for no more than 120 credit hours or eight semesters toward a first time bachelor’s degree.
Drive to 55
In 2013, Governor Haslam launched the Drive to 55 to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. With the support of the General Assembly, the Drive to 55 is changing the landscape of what is possible in Tennessee public higher education, its workforce and economy. In addition to strengthening the Tennessee National Guard, the STRONG Act will strengthen our workforce and economy and contribute to the Drive to 55.