Since applications opened on February 15, a total of 10,497 adults have applied for Tennessee Reconnect, the state program for adults to go back to school tuition-free to earn an associate degree or technical certificate.

Gov. Bill Haslam announced the enrollment numbers Wednesday, saying more than two-thirds of the applicants have previously enrolled in college and just over half of the applicants have attended college in the past five years. Nearly 90 percent of those who applied plan to work while enrolled through the program.

“The immense interest in Tennessee Reconnect demonstrates that Tennesseans understand the value of a postsecondary credential and that a quality education can help create better lives for them and their families,” Haslam said in a statement. “Tennessee is leading the nation in making college accessible and affordable to anyone who wants to earn a degree. By investing in our workforce through education, we are creating a solid foundation for our state’s economic future.”

The application for Tennessee Reconnect will remain open year-round and can be completed at TNReconnect.gov.

Tennessee Reconnect covers tuition and mandatory fees at an in-state community or technical college for eligible adults that do not yet have a college degree. It is part of the Drive to 55, the governor's initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.