Breana Drymon

Administrative Professional Technology major

Did you know that 55% of students struggle to pay for college? And of that, 51% go on to eventually drop out, 30% percent of those being first-time freshmen. It’s crazy to think of all the hard work and potential up to that point, being wasted due to people not being able to afford school, but if you’re like me, dropping out was never a solution.

I’m 23-years-old and work full-time between my serving job and babysitting. I live with two other girls and have been on my own with no outside help from my family or anyone since I was 18 years old. Yes, it’s been very hard, between finding the time and money for college, but giving up was never an option for me. As August approached, I was informed that I wouldn’t be receiving financial aid to attend classes this semester. I knew I was already struggling to pay bills and that there was absolutely no way I could make ends meet and have the money saved up to pay for classes when they began. I felt like a complete failure and started freaking out at the thought of having to sit out a semester and get behind in order to save up the money I needed.

I decided to reach out to my advisor who told me about TN Reconnect. If it wasn’t for TN Reconnect, I wouldn’t be attending classes this semester. The TN Reconnect is a grant for adults to earn an associate degree or technical certificate, tuition-free.

Through my advisor, I was able to contact Marsha Barker, who has helped me tremendously. I was briefly asked a few questions, and then told I qualified for TN Reconnect. A huge weight of stress was lifted off my shoulders. What made it even better is how simple it was to know if I qualified, and how fast the whole process went after being submitted.

One week later, I was in and registering for my classes. The good thing about TN Reconnect is that it does not only pay for your tuition for up to five years, allowing you to earn your degree, but you have such a supportive group of other students right by your side who are going through the exact same thing. It felt good to know I wasn’t alone.

With TN Reconnect, not only am I given the funds to achieve my degree, but I have someone there to answer all of my questions and be with me every step of the way to keep me on track. Three months ago, I had never even heard of the TN Reconnect and had no idea of what was in store for me by choosing to talk to someone and learn more about it.

So, if you’re struggling like I was, dropping out is not the answer. There’s so much more in store for you if you just explore your options. Do not give up. I encourage you to keep going, step out of your comfort zone and ask questions, because if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have been able to attend college this semester, and I would have been another step back from achieving my degree.