Four Family Members all Using TN Reconnect

Jim and Kim Bare will be attending Vol State together this fall using the tuition-free TN Reconnect program.

Tuition-free community college, with TN Reconnect, is inspiring thousands of adults across the state to attend college this fall. Volunteer State Community College has nearly 1000 new eligible applicants thus far. But it isn’t just individuals signing-up. Couples, and even whole families, are taking the opportunity to earn a college degree. Jim and Kim Bare of Hickman are attending Vol State this fall with their daughter Jessica and son-in-law Michael. Jim accompanied Jessica and Kim to the Vol State campus in Gallatin for a TN Reconnect help session.

“Once we sat down with the Vol State folks I got bit by the bug,” Jim said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to go back to school. I’ve been to college three times. I always had an excuse before to stop going. Now I have a support system.”

“I have always worked for lawyers,” Kim said. “I love what I do as a legal assistant. I want to be a lawyer. Vol State has been such a wonderful community. They were so good to us when we came up and got everything done.”

Daughter Jessica Austin needs just a few credits to graduate. “She never had a chance to finish college- you know, life and kids,” Kim said. Michael Austin is a manager with a staffing agency. “He has flown up the corporate ladder, but he’s nearing that glass ceiling. He needs a degree to keep advancing in his career.”

TN Reconnect provides tuition-free classes for Tennessee adults who don’t already have a college degree. There is still time to take the three application steps needed to attend Vol State using TN Reconnect this fall, but people need to act now. Students can apply for Reconnect, apply to Vol State, and fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, all by visiting Once the Vol State application is processed, students will receive the info they need to register for courses. Those classes start August 27. TN Reconnect will keep going for the immediate future, meaning students can also start college in January for the spring semester.

Jim and Kim Bare work full-time so they plan to take many online classes or even hybrid classes which combine online work with some course meetings. Jim and Kim are both scheduled to take Math 1010. They figure the more classes they take together, the easier it will be to find a study partner.

“My kids say- we’re going to be on you dad. They’re so proud that I went back to school. From age four to 65 there are nine people in this family who will be getting some sort of education at the same time.” said Jim. Their sons Christian and Stephen both attended Vol State. Stephen graduated last May and Christian graduated from TN Tech.

Vol State has more than 100 programs of study to consider. If that seems daunting, advisors can help students with their options. People are welcome to visit any Vol State campus location for one-on-one help. For more information call 615-230-3447.