Tennessee has been named one of three states to receive a million-dollar grant to address the length of time it takes for a college student to graduate.
In most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities, it takes the average student about five years to earn a bachelor’s degree. And it takes the average student at a two-year college approximately four years to earn an associate’s degree.
“We know the longer it takes a student to finish a degree, the less likely it is that he or she will stay on the path to graduation,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan in a statement released earlier today. “If we are serious about increasing the number of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree, we need to do all we can to make sure students are successful when they enroll.”
The antidote for the dawdling college student at the state’s Board of Regents schools is called the “Guided Pathways to Success (GPS)” program. The GPS program is designed to streamline degree paths, guarantee available classes and limit students’ flexibility in an effort to keep them on track to graduate on time. By Fall 2016, all Board of Regents school students will be required to participate in the GPS program.
The $1 million grant, provided by the Lumina Foundation for Education and Complete College America will contribute to Governor Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative, a program designed to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a degree or workplace certificate from 32% to 55%. “Our ‘Drive to 55’ initiative is focused on increasing the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials,” said Haslam, “and this grant will support efforts to help students save time and money as they pursue their degrees.”
The Tennessee Board of Regents oversees six of the state’s regional public universities– East and Middle Tennessee State Universities, Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and the University of Memphis. It also governs each of Tennessee’s 13 community colleges and all 27 of the state’s colleges of applied technology.