States launch more help for students in completing education

July 19, 2018
By: Ellen Marrison

North Carolina and Tennessee are implementing new initiatives to get students in their states the help they need to either complete degrees or training that will help improve workforce development in those states. North Carolina’s governor recently added a new line of grants dubbed “Finish Line” grants, to help students that are struggling with non-academic problems complete community college. And Tennessee is rebranding its Tennessee Pathways program, employing regional coordinators to work in nine economic regions of the state to lead the alignment of local education institutions and employers.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced the Finish Line Grants program to help community college students who face financial emergencies. The program will help students pay for course materials, housing, medical needs, dependent care and other unforeseen financial emergencies. Students receive a maximum of $1,000 per semester.

Community colleges and workforce development boards will collaborate to apply for funding and will establish a joint process for reviewing funding requests from students who have completed 75 percent of their degree or credential. Funding will come from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), with up to $7 million available for the 2018-19 school year.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen unveiled Tennessee Pathways as a part of the state’s Drive to 55 initiative, which seeks to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with postsecondary credentials to 55 percent by 2025. Tennessee Pathways will focus on aligning K-12 education to opportunities after high school graduation, including industry needs and postsecondary expectations.

The program will include a nearly $2 million state investment in regional coordinators, who will provide technical assistance to school systems and guidance on increasing the number of pathway opportunities available to students. Also, Tennessee Pathways will recognize exemplary districts and schools through a competitive designation process, which will come with incentives that include the ability to access innovation funding to drive new ideas in this space.

North Carolina, Tennesseehigher ed, community college, workforce