• (a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Tennessee reconnect grant.”

  • Terms Used In Tennessee Code 49-4-944

    • Academic year: means :

      • (A) For students who first received the Tennessee HOPE scholarship, the Tennessee HOPE access grant or Tennessee HOPE scholarship for nontraditional students in the fall semester 2009 or thereafter, three (3) consecutive semesters beginning with a fall semester and including the immediately following spring and summer semesters. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902

      • Continuous enrollment: means a student is enrolled in the fall and spring semesters of a single academic year. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • Eligible postsecondary institution: means an eligible independent postsecondary institution or an eligible public postsecondary institution. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • FAFSA: means the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • Gift: A voluntary transfer or conveyance of property without consideration, or for less than full and adequate consideration based on fair market value.
      • Gift aid: means scholarships and grants from any source that do not require repayment, including funds provided through the federal Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, compiled generally in title 42 U. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • Grade point average: means the numbered grade average calculated using a 4. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • Part-time student: means a student attending a postsecondary educational institution and enrolled for at least six (6) semester hours, but less than twelve (12) semester hours, during a semester of attendance. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • Scholarship: means a Tennessee HOPE scholarship or a Tennessee HOPE access grant. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • Semester: means fall, spring, or summer semester at a postsecondary institution, if the institution is on a semester system, or the equivalent, if the institution is on a system other than a semester system. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • TSAC: means the Tennessee student assistance corporation. See Tennessee Code 49-4-902
      • Year: means a calendar year, unless otherwise expressed. See Tennessee Code 1-3-105

    (b) Except for the definitions provided in this subsection (b), the definitions in § 49-4-902 shall apply to this section:

    • (1) “Academic year” means three (3) consecutive semesters beginning with a fall semester and including the immediately following spring and summer semesters;

    • (2) “Eligible postsecondary institution” means a postsecondary institution that is eligible for the Tennessee education lottery scholarship, as defined in § 49-4-902, on July 1, 2013, and remains eligible thereafter;

    • (3) “Eligible program of study” means a federal Title IV-eligible curriculum of courses leading to a certificate or associate degree; and

    • (4) “Gift aid” means financial aid received from the federal Pell grant, the Tennessee education lottery scholarship, or the Tennessee student assistance award.

  • (c) To be eligible for a Tennessee reconnect grant, a student must:

    • (1) Not have previously earned an associate or baccalaureate degree;

    • (2) Not be ineligible for the grant under § 49-4-904;

    • (3) Have been a Tennessee resident as required by § 49-4-905(a)(1);

    • (4) Complete the FAFSA for each academic year in which the Tennessee reconnect grant is received in accordance with the schedule determined by TSAC;

    • (5) Be an independent student as determined by the FAFSA;

    • (6) Be admitted to an eligible postsecondary institution and enrolled in courses leading to completion of an eligible program of study; and

    • (7) Participate in a college success program through the Tennessee reconnect community initiative as created by the Tennessee higher education commission.

  • (d) To continue to be eligible for a Tennessee reconnect grant, a student shall:

    • (1) Enroll in classes at an eligible postsecondary institution that lead to completion of an eligible program of study;

    • (2) Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 at the end of each academic year as determined by the institution attended;

    • (3) Maintain continuous enrollment at an eligible postsecondary institution;

    • (4) Complete the renewal FAFSA each academic year as specified by TSAC;

    • (5) Attend at least as a part-time student; and

    • (6) Participate in a college success program through the Tennessee reconnect community initiative as created by the Tennessee higher education commission.

  • (e) If a student ceases to be eligible for the Tennessee reconnect grant at any time, then the student shall not be eligible to regain the grant.

  • (f)

    • (1) A student may receive a Tennessee reconnect grant under this section until the occurrence of the first of the following events:

      • (A) The student has attained a degree or certificate in an eligible program of study; or

      • (B) Five (5) years have passed since the date of initial enrollment as a Tennessee reconnect grant student, exclusive of any approved leaves of absence.

    • (2) Notwithstanding subdivision (f)(1)(A), a student may continue to receive a Tennessee reconnect grant for an associate degree following completion of a certificate that directly leads to the associate degree program.

    • (3) A student who has an approved medical or personal leave of absence from the eligible postsecondary institution may continue to receive the grant upon resuming the eligible program of study at an eligible postsecondary institution so long as the student continues to meet all applicable eligibility requirements.

  • (g) A student who receives a Tennessee reconnect grant may transfer from one eligible postsecondary institution to another eligible postsecondary institution without loss of the grant so long as the student continues to meet all eligibility requirements for the grant.

  • (h) Subject to the amounts appropriated by the general assembly, the amount of a Tennessee reconnect grant shall not exceed the cost of tuition and mandatory fees charged to all students for coursework leading to completion of the eligible program of study at the eligible postsecondary institution attended less all other gift aid, which shall be credited first to tuition and mandatory fees.

  • (i) Notwithstanding subsection (h), the amount of the Tennessee reconnect grant at an eligible four-year public postsecondary institution or an eligible private institution shall be the average cost of tuition and mandatory fees at the public two-year postsecondary institutions less all other gift aid. Gift aid shall be credited first to the average tuition and mandatory fees as described in subsection (h).

  • (j) This section shall apply beginning with the fall semester of 2018 for independent students who enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution.

  • (k) The comptroller of the treasury, through the comptroller’s office of research and education accountability, shall review and study the Tennessee reconnect grant program to determine the effectiveness of the program. The study shall be done in the third year of the program and every four (4) years thereafter. The office of research and education accountability shall report its findings and conclusions to the speakers of the senate and house of representatives and the education committees of the senate and house of representatives by December 31 each year a report is prepared.