More than just Bluegrass and barbecue, Tennessee is making a name for itself in higher education. The state’s initiative “Drive to 55” aims to increase the number of Tennesseans with an associates or bachelor’s degree to 55% by 2025.
The goal is to expand college access and prepare students for the workforce, thereby improving economic development state-wide.
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Tennessee’s dedication to education is also evident in its excellent catalog of colleges, outstanding online learning opportunities and generous financial aid packages.
Overview of Higher Education in Tennessee
Tennessee is home to 88 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of those, 23 are public schools, 46 are non-profit private schools and 19 are for-profit private schools.
The NCES shows that tuition in the state is right in line with the national average. In-state residents can expect to pay around $9789 to attend one of the 4-year public institutions. Out-of-state students will pay closer to $26,068. Tennesseans who are unable to find their degree at an in-state institution, may benefit from a reciprocity agreement through the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).
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The SREB is a 16-state collaboration aimed at improving higher education. Through the SREB, residents of participating states may pursue degrees at schools in other participating states while paying in-state tuition.
About Online Colleges in Tennessee
A 2018 report by the NCES stated that 11.3% of college students in Tennessee were enrolled exclusively in online courses.
An additional 25.5% were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. These numbers have risen as schools have increased their online offerings. Today, University of Memphis offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs taught fully online, in areas such as business, health, humanities and social science.
At King University, a Presbyterian-affiliated private university, students can consider an Associate of Arts, 11 bachelor’s programs and 3 graduate programs, all online. Even small schools have online learning opportunities. Welch College, a private Christian school that enrolls only about 367 students per year, offers 4 undergraduate degree programs online.
One of the best resources for online learning in Tennessee is TN eCampus, an easy-to-use portal that provides a comprehensive look at online college programs offered by 40 institutions across the state. In all, potential students can research and consider more than 500 online degree programs.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Tennessee
If you are interested in earning a college degree in Tennessee, you will first need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will provide access to federal, state and private financial aid. Since most financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis, it’s important to fill it out as soon as possible.
You can access the FAFSA starting on October 1st. Filling out the FAFSA is simple. You will need to answer questions about your finances and the finances of your parents (unless you are considered “independent”). Your answers will be used to determine how much and what type of financial assistance you are offered.
The ideal forms of financial aid are grants and scholarships, because these do not have to be repaid. The state of Tennessee offers a number of grant and scholarship programs to help make college more affordable. Here are just a few examples:
- Tennessee Student Assistance Award – For students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $3500 or less; Must maintain satisfactory academic progress; $1000-4000 depending on school
- Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant – For students enrolled at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology who maintain satisfactory academic progress; $2000
- Tennessee HOPE Access Grant – For entering freshmen with a GPA of 2.75-2.99 and an ACT score of 18-20 or an SAT score of 960-1050; Parents’ or independent student’s and spouse’s adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less; Up to $875 per semester at a 2-year institution, $1250 per semester at a 4-year institution
- Tennessee HOPE Scholarship – For entering freshmen with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and an ACT score of 21 or higher; Up to $1500 per semester at a 2-year institution, $2250 per semester at a 4-year institution
- Tennessee Promise Scholarship – For high school seniors who plan to attend community or technical college; Must attend mentoring sessions and perform community service; Amount varies but is intended to cover balance after all other aid is applied
- Ned McWherter Scholars Program – For high school seniors with a GPA of 3.5 or higher and an ACT score of 29 or higher; $6000 per year
You can also find assistance programs to help if you have been in the foster care system, in the military, if you plan to pursue teaching or nursing, and for many other circumstances, by clicking here.
Students can also search for private scholarships, which may be awarded based on need, merit, intended major or other unique factors. Here are a few examples:
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship Amount|
|Community Foundation of Greater Memphis Scholarships||Varies|
|Jack Diller Education Award||(4) $2500|
|MaryEllen Locher Scholarship||Varies|
More scholarships can be found using search sites such as Fastweb.com, where you can enter information about yourself and be matched with scholarship opportunities.
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Finally, be sure to check with the financial aid office at the institution you have chosen. Many schools offer exclusive financial aid programs, and they can help you determine what you may qualify for and how to apply.
List of Online Colleges in Tennessee
|Online Colleges in Tennessee||Annual Tuition||Application Fee|
|Austin Peay State University||$7,689||$25|
|East Tennessee State University||$8,341||$0|
|Tennessee Tech University||$8,203||$25|
|Trevecca Nazarene University||$24,624||$25|
|University of Memphis||$9,125||$25|
|University of Tennessee – Chattanooga||$8,544||$30|
|University of Tennessee – Knoxville||$12,724||$50|
|University of Tennessee – Martin||$9,088||$30|
Tennessee is a state that values postsecondary education, and it shows. With nearly a hundred well-respected colleges and universities, plenty of online programs, and more financial aid programs than many other states, it’s a great idea to get your degree in Tennessee!