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More Money for Middle College Scholarships Cuts Financial Burden of Higher Education

This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley M.D., R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other area counties.

Too many young people believe that college is not an option, but for students in Middle College it isn’t a far-off dream – it’s part of everyday life.

Tennessee’s Middle College program has resulted in tremendous academic success for our students.

The program gives high school students in their junior and senior years the ability to jump start their higher education and career by allowing them to graduate from high school with an associate degree.

Benefits of the Middle College experience are numerous; however, the cost of this program has been a roadblock for some students.

For these bright and motivated students, the most difficult part of simultaneously taking high school and college classes should be the coursework, not how to pay for being a high achiever.

This year, the General Assembly appropriated $643,500 more towards increasing the middle college scholarship. This boost in funds raises the scholarship from $1,250 to $2,000 per semester for full-time students.

About half of Tennessee’s community colleges participate in the successful program, and around 403 students receive the scholarship.

"It is my hope, that with the increase in funding for scholarships, more students will want to take advantage of this program, and more community colleges across the state will offer it," Hensley said.

The state has focused on easing the financial burden of higher education with Gov. Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative, encouraging more Tennesseans to seek higher education.

That initiative strives to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.

The Middle College Scholarship program compliments this initiative by increasing students’ opportunities to seek a higher education degree while they complete high school.

This scholarship program makes a huge difference economically and academically. It has resulted in raising academic achievement among participants.

Students have seen increases in ACT test scores by an average of 3.5 points, with some students gaining up to 10 points.

Middle College students are among the most sought-after students in the nation by four-year colleges and universities and typically achieve 100 percent proficiency on high school benchmarks.

On average 90 percent of Middle College graduates transfer to a four-year college or university. That is a huge help in getting us to our Drive to 55 goal, as we are already about two years ahead of schedule to meet it.

As a member of the Senate Education Committee, I will continue to support the Middle College Scholarship Program. Students who graduate from this program will certainly reap benefits years into the future.

Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, at 615-741-3100, toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462, his telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823, or by E-mail:

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