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Knoxville — Only 17 percent of Tennessee workers have a baccalaureate degree. That lags behind the national average of 21 percent.

But the University of Tennessee is planning a new program to help more Tennesseans finish college.

Sammie Lynn Puett, UT’s vice president of public service, continuing education and university relations, said the New College program will allow state residents to earn a college degree over the Internet.

“We know there are many Tennesseans who would like to complete a college degree they began some time ago, but have been unable to complete because of family and job responsibilities,” Puett said. “This opens that door to them.”

Puett said the program would increase the number of Tennesseeans with college degrees and help the economy.

“It will help us to increase the number of degree-holding Tennesseeans,” Puett said. “That would help attract additional industry for high-paying jobs.”

Puett said the university hopes to begin the program next year.