Scholarships of $10,000 up for grabs

Rick Wagner • Dec 2, 2018 at 3:00 PM

KINGSPORT — How would you like $10,000 toward an online college degree, bachelor’s or master’s? Kim Estep has just the contest for you, and it’s going on right now.

Estep, the Western Governor’s University chancellor, was in the Model City recently to talk about the annual launch of the Tenn-K Scholarship. The nonprofit, online and competency-based scholarship program will award up to 10 scholarships of $10,000 in 2019, and she said the name is a play on words with Tennessee, 10 and running language.

The contest, in its fourth year, opened Nov. 1, and applications can be made any time but must be submitted by March 15 for consideration for this round of scholarships. The school is tailored for working adults, and the scholarships will be awarded starting around the first of the new year. Applications include an essay and, further down the line, an interview by a committee. Some awards may be given as late as May, Estep said.

“A degree is not a sprint, but it is not a complete marathon,” Estep said. She said the average WGU Tennessee undergraduate student earns a degree in 27 months, the average graduate student in 19 months. To apply for the scholarship, go online to the school’s main website, which has a link to click for more information, or call (855) 948-8495.


Kennedy Elementary School employee Chandar Smith won a Tenn-K scholarship in a surprise presentation at the school on May 18, 2017.

Estep said Smith has since completed her degree.


The way WGU Tennessee works, with or without one of the Tenn-K or other scholarships it offers, is that students basically get an “all-you-can-learn” buffet for six months. If you finish courses early, you can register for more within that six months. Estep said students are allowed to continue the courses, in effect getting an incomplete, in the next six-month time frame. With the creation of WGU Ohio this summer, eight states have created WGU-affiliated online programs.

As for the Tenn-K competition, Estep explained that winners don’t get the whole $10,000 up front but receive $2,500 a term over four terms, compared to the total cost of $3,200 a term. The school also has a $145 resource fee, but for now the $65 application fee is being waived.

WGU Tennessee, which grew out of Western Governor’s University, was founded July 7, 2013. This September, Estep said, the school reached a milestone many Tennessee schools never do: It had at least one student in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties, from Mountain City in Johnson County to Memphis in Shelby County.

“That’s fulfilling our mission” to bring higher education to all areas of the Volunteer State, she said.


Students get a weekly call from a faculty mentor and are required to do 12 units for undergraduate degrees and eight units for graduate degrees. Estep said it takes those with a two-year degree an average of 18 months to complete a four-year degree with WGU Tennessee.

The school recently reached an agreement with Ballad Health, which gives employees a 5 percent discount plus special schedules to match their work schedules.

WGU Tennessee offers degrees in four fields: business; information technology; nursing and health care; and education, the latter with elementary and special ed as well as secondary math, science and English. She said those who have gone to Tennessee College of Applied Technology and community colleges are welcome. However, the school cannot take Tennessee Promise or Tennessee Reconnect scholarships.

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