Financial Aid and Student Loans in Tennessee

So, you’ve decided on a course of study in Tennessee. The good news? Tennessee is an excellent state with some terrific universities. The bad news? Tennessee is in the top 30% in terms of average four year college costs, at $32,215 per year.

Now it’s time to explore your funding options to pay for your college education in Tennessee. Start planning your finances well in advance so you can afford tuition fees, rent, study materials, and books.

What Scholarship Programs Does Tennessee Have?

Scholarships are predominantly merit-based, but some are predicated on financial need.

You can choose from many scholarships if you’re planning to study in Tennessee. They all have different minimum requirements. Some scholarships are open to all students, while others are intended for specific demographic groups like ethnicity, religious beliefs, or study subject.

You can search in more detail at sites like,, and You can also approach your college counselors and college financial aid office.

Here’s a brief overview of just a few of scholarships specific to Tennessee:

HOPE Scholarship

The HOPE Scholarship is established and funded from the net proceeds of the state lottery and awarded to entering freshmen who are enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution within sixteen (16) months after graduating from a TN eligible high school.

The amount ranges between $1,750 and $2,250 per semester, depending on the type of institution and academic year, and eligibility requirements can be found here.

Ned McWherter Scholars Program

The Ned McWherter Scholars Program is intended to reward high achieving Tennessee high school graduates who plan on attending college in Tennessee. Tennessee high school seniors starting their last semester in high school may apply, and must have a cumulative 3.5 GPA and a minimum composite score of 29 on the ACT (or concordant equivalent score on the SAT). 

Tennessee Promise Scholarship

Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in Tennessee. It provides students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or the Tennessee Student Assistance Award.

What Grant Programs Does Tennessee Have?

Some grant programs are based on financial need, and others are based on factors like ethnic background, gender, or religion.

To qualify for a grant, you are typically required to be enrolled at an undergraduate, graduate, or professional college.

Tennessee HOPE Access Grant

The HOPE Access Grant, funded by the state lottery, is open to residents of Tennessee. Award amounts are based on financial need and how much money the fund has available. The fund usually covers tuition, but may not cover expenses such as accommodation and transport.

Tennessee Student Assistance Award

Students apply for the Tennessee Student Assistance award with their FAFSA application. The Tennessee Education Lottery funds this grant. It’s open to Tennessee residents and people in financial need. Your FAFSA application will determine the amount of the award.

Helping Heroes Grant

This grant is available to past or present members of the Tennessee National Guard and U.S. veterans who are honorably discharged. The award is either $500 or $1,000 per semester, depending on how many credit hours you are studying. The money must be used for tuition.

What Student Loan Programs Does Tennessee Have?

Unlike some other states, Tennessee does not have a student lending program. Instead, students in Tennessee looking for a student loans should go look at the following program. 

Federal student loans

Prospective students in Tennessee can receive federal financial aid assistance by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA). 

Private co-signed student loans

There are many private student loan opportunities for those who need additional assistance on top of federal student loans. Many banks, credit unions, and dedicated lending companies offer private student loans, but almost all require a co-signer.

No co-signer student loans in Tennessee

Funding U began because we identified thousands of students who were unable to qualify for a private student loan because they didn’t have an eligible co-signer. While we’re no longer the only provider of such loans, we offer no co-signer student loans to career-focused students currently enrolled full time in college. The requirements for receiving a loan are dependent upon the GPA of the student and the graduation rate of the institution they attend. To learn more about our no co-signer student loans click here.

What Schools Does Funding U Lend to In Tennessee?

Generally speaking, Funding U’s no co-signer loans are offered to students at eligible four-year, non-profit, undergraduate degree-granting universities (which means we do not lend to for-profit schools, 2-year schools, graduate schools, or trade schools). Our eligibility requirements are based on models that aim to predict how likely a student is to graduate, and because of that we have minimum GPA requirements that students must meet and minimum 6-year graduation rates that schools must reach in order to be eligible. To find out more about how we determine our eligibility, click here.

School NameFreshman
6 yr
Grad Rate
American Baptist CollegeNoNoNoNo2062
Austin Peay State UniversityNoNoNoNo4169
Baptist Memorial College of Health SciencesNoNoNoNo4872
Belmont UniversityNoYesYesYes7385
Bethel University (Tennessee)NoNoNoNo2960
Bryan College-DaytonNoNoYesYes5068
Carson-Newman UniversityNoNoYesYes5170
Christian Brothers UniversityNoNoYesYes5880
Cumberland UniversityNoNoNoNo4370
East Tennessee State UniversityNoNoNoNo4576
Fisk UniversityNoNoNoNo4481
Freed-Hardeman UniversityNoNoYesYes6080
Hiwassee CollegeNoNoNoNo2469
Johnson UniversityNoNoYesYes6379
King UniversityNoNoNoNo4670
Lane CollegeNoNoNoNo2450
Le Moyne-Owen CollegeNoNoNoNo1253
Lee UniversityNoNoYesYes5781
Lincoln Memorial UniversityNoNoYesYes5773
Lipscomb UniversityNoNoYesYes6579
Martin Methodist CollegeNoNoNoNo3749
Maryville CollegeNoNoYesYes5572
Memphis College of ArtNoNoYesYes5571
Middle Tennessee State UniversityNoNoNoNo4476
Milligan CollegeNoYesYesYes7076
O'More College of DesignNoNoNoNo4274
Rhodes CollegeNoYesYesYes8591
Sewanee-The University of the SouthNoYesYesYes8488
Southern Adventist UniversityNoNoYesYes5276
Tennessee State UniversityNoNoNoNo3058
Tennessee Technological UniversityNoNoYesYes5579
Tennessee Wesleyan UniversityNoNoNoNo4068
The University of Tennessee-ChattanoogaNoNoNoNo4873
The University of Tennessee-KnoxvilleNoYesYesYes7386
The University of Tennessee-MartinNoNoNoNo4876
Trevecca Nazarene UniversityNoNoYesYes5576
Tusculum CollegeNoNoNoNo3165
Union UniversityNoYesYesYes7186
University of MemphisNoNoNoNo4875
Vanderbilt UniversityYesYesYesYes9497
Visible Music CollegeNoNoNoNo4173
Watkins College of Art Design & FilmNoNoNoNo3165
Welch CollegeNoNoYesYes5379

Below is a table listing all of the schools in Tennessee that Funding U is currently lending to, with additional details on which grades we are currently lending to, based on the school’s 6-year graduation rate. 

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