WGU about to launch third year of Tenn-K scholarships

Rick Wagner • Updated Oct 19, 2017 at 1:39 PM

KINGSPORT — The Tenn-K is not an athletic road race but a post-high school academic endeavor, part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55.

Come Nov. 1 and going through March 15, Tennesseeans may apply for the Tenn-K Scholarship with WGU Tennessee. Applicants have the chance to be among 10 Tennesseans who will win $10,000 in scholarship money for 2017-18. And that is almost enough to pay for getting a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree through WGU-Tennessee.

“It’s a $10,000 award paid out over two years. That covers almost the complete (tuition) cost,” WGU-Tennessee Chancellor Kim Estep said during a visit to Kingsport Wednesday. She said most students with an associates degree or some college credit take three or four terms to get a bachelor’s degree. The scholarship will cover $2,500 of the $3,000 tuition for a six-month term, Estep said.


She said WGU would like most students to start with at least 12 undergraduate college credits or certifications in the information technology field, with the average student having about 28 out of 120 required for a bachelor’s degree. She said the average to obtain an undergraduate degree is about 26 months, while the average for a master’s degree is about 19 months.

The idea to partner with Western Governors University to create WGU Tennessee was part of Haslam’s Drive to 55, an effort for the Volunteer State to have 55 percent of its residents with a college degree or some sort of post-high school certification by 2020.

WGU Tennessee has four colleges: Teachers College, College of Health Professions, College of Business of Information Technology. Combined, they offer from than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The newest one is a bachelor’s of science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, which she said has grown to about 500 nationwide in WGU over the nine months since it began.

“You do as many classes as you can every term,” Estep said. Locally, Kingsport City Schools special education instructional assistant Chandar Smith at Kennedy Elementary School won a Tenn-K scholarship in the second annual scholarship awards for 2016-17 and is continuing her pursuit of a master’s degree. Smith completed her bachelor’s degree from WGU in 2012 before WGU Tennessee was launched, Estep said.

Potential students can apply online for admittance and financial aid, and Tenn-K recipients will have their scholarships applied retroactively if they win. The application period is Nov. 1 through March 15, but she said some scholarships will be awarded before March 15 and that students can start a six-month term as any time.

“Just go ahead and apply,” Estep said. “If they’ve started (and win), they’ll apply it retroactively.” Finalists drawn from online applications, which include an essay question, will undergo a phone interview, and judges will consider merit and need in making the final decisions.


At the most recent commencement for WGU Nashville, which was Aug. 26 and covered an 11-month period since the last ceremony, about 200 of some 600 graduates during that period attended.

For more information on WGU Tennessee or to find the link to apply for the Tenn-K when it goes live, go to https://tennessee.wgu.edu/.

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