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Community College Scholarship Program Aids Tennessee Students

January 25, 2002

Tennessee's Sullivan County took a big step toward reducing the presence of a brain drain when it approved a scholarship program for its high school graduates.

Officials in Sullivan County, a community of about 144,000 that neighbors Virginia, established the Educate and Grow scholarship program in May 2001. The program was approved first by the Kingsport (Tenn.) Board of Mayor and Aldermen and, with no dissenting votes, the Sullivan County Commissioners gave way to a $300,000-per-year plan for the program.

Under the program's terms, up to 168 students may receive full tuition assistance on a per-year basis to attend Northeast State Technical Community College, and every student in Sullivan County's six high schools and homeschoolers is eligible for the $1,600 in tuition money. Recipients must take at least 12 hours of classes a semester, maintain a C-average, enter college within 15 months of graduating high school, and complete a 60-hour degree at Northeast State within three calendar years.

Northeast State, which offers two-year associate degrees in 45 fields, reportedly has experienced success in attracting graduates via the Educate and Grow program. This past fall, 103 students enrolled in the program, and an above-average 72 returned for the spring semester, according to the Kingsport Times-News. In November 2001, the program was lauded by members of Kingsport's Economic Development Partnership for showing progress and gaining national attention.

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