Scholarships and Grants in Tennessee

See if You Fit the Requirements

Most states offer some level of financial assistance for their college-bound residents. Scholarships and grants are routinely sponsored by state governments, and financed with state revenues. Like many of its sister states, Tennessee has a state lottery which it uses to fund a variety of post-secondary financial aid programs for its resident students. State proceeds from this lottery are used to finance the wide range of scholarships, grants and loan-forgiveness programs administered by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. Since their inception, these state sponsored financial aid programs have made a college education more accessible to thousands of students in the Volunteer State.

Tennessee scholarships

The FAFSA

All Federal and state sponsored financial aid for college-bound students begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Every college-bound student pursuing government funded scholarships, grants or loan-forgiveness programs must first fill out and submit the FAFSA. The information students supply on their FAFSA application is used to determine the level of financial assistance for which they are eligible. All students preparing for college should make the FAFSA application their first priority.

General Scholarships and Grants for Tennessee Students

Resident students in the state of Tennessee have access to some of the best scholarship and grant programs in the country. The programs administered by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation are a mixture of need-based grants and merit-based scholarships. These programs are available to current residents of Tennessee who have graduated high school, or who have completed their GED. Students applying for any of these state supported grants and scholarships must be enrolled, or preparing to enroll, at one of Tennessee’s state colleges or universities.

The following sample of financial aid programs supported by the state of Tennessee will give students a good idea of the wide range of college funding that is available.

  • The Tennessee Student Assistance Award provides non-repayable financial aid to low-income students who are enrolled, or are preparing to enroll, in an undergraduate program at a state college or university. To be eligible students must be Tennessee residents, and must have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $2100 or less. Grant amounts vary, and are awarded on a first come, first served basis.
  • The Tennessee Hope Access Grant is available to high school graduates with a minimum 2.75 GPA and an SAT score that falls between 860 and 970. To be eligible students must have an annual family income of no more than $36,000. Applicants must be enrolled, or preparing to enroll, in a state 4 year college or university. Award amounts currently stand at $1375 and are non-renewable.
  • The Tennessee Hope Scholarship is a merit-based award for freshman college students with a minimum high school GPA of 3.0, and a minimum SAT score of 980. Applicants must be enrolled, or preparing to enroll, in an eligible 2-year or 4-year state college or university. Award amounts range from $3000 to $6000 per year, depending on school of attendance, and status as a full-time or part-time student.
  • The Tennessee General Assembly Merit Scholarship is available to students graduating from a Tennessee public or private school with a minimum 3.75 GPA, and a minimum SAT score of 1280. Eligible students may receive up to $1500 in scholarship funds to be divided between fall, spring, and summer semesters.
  • The Tennessee Aspire Award is a supplemental scholarship for students who have received the Tennessee Hope Scholarship. To be eligible, students must meet the requirements of the Hope Scholarship, and must have an annual family income of less than $36,000. Recipients of the Aspire Award may receive up to $2250 in supplemental scholarship funds.

Career Specific Grants and Scholarships

In addition to the wide range of general grants and scholarship supported by the state of Tennessee, resident students also have access to an impressive selection of career specific financial aid programs. These programs are designed to encourage and support students who are pursuing degrees and careers in certain high need fields, including mathematics, science, education and healthcare. Tennessee’s career specific financial aid includes grants, scholarships and loan-forgiveness programs.

  • The Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program is designed to encourage and support students who are pursuing degrees, and careers, as educators. To be eligible students must be a junior or senior enrolled at a state college or university, and must have a minimum 2.75 GPA. This is an award-for-service program, and recipients must agree to a predetermined term of service teaching PreK – 12 courses at a Tennessee public school. Award amounts are determined by the student’s total cost of tuition, and are renewable for up to four years.
  • The Graduate Nursing Loan-Forgiveness Program is designed to encourage Registered Nurses to return to school to pursue degrees in nursing education. To be eligible applicants must agree to a term of service teaching in one of Tennessee’s nursing education programs. Awards are determined by the student’s total cost of tuition, and are renewable for up to four years. Recipients who do not complete their agreed upon term of service will be responsible for paying of the remainder of their award as a standard student loan.
  • The Tennessee Rural Health Loan-Forgiveness Program is offered to medical and dental students enrolled at a state college or university. The program offers financial assistance to students studying to become a Doctor of Medicine, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Nurse Practitioner. The purpose of the program is to increase the number of qualified primary care personnel at Tennessee’s licensed medical facilities. To be eligible for this loan-forgiveness program, students must agree to a predetermined term of service practicing medicine or dentistry at one of the state’s critical need health institutions.
  • The Christine McCauliffe Scholarship Program is open to resident college students in the state of Tennessee who are pursuing a degree in education. To be eligible, students must be a college junior enrolled in a teaching education program at a Tennessee state college or university. They must also have a cumulative 3.5 GPA, and must have ACT or SAT scores that meet or exceed the national average. The award is $500, and is non-renewable.
  • The Minority Teaching Fellows Program supports minority students in Tennessee who are pursuing a teaching degree at a state college or university. This is an award-for-service scholarship, and students must sign a promissory note agreeing to teach PreK – 12 at a Tennessee public school. The award amount is $5000 per year, and is renewable. Should the recipient fail to meet their teaching obligations, their award will revert to a standard student loan.

Financial Aid for Students in Special Circumstances

The state of Tennessee sponsors financial aid programs for students on a wide variety of educational paths, and from a wide variety of backgrounds. In addition to the general and career specific programs open to all residents, Tennessee has also set aside funds for students in special circumstances. The following financial aid programs target the needs of veterans, and children in the Tennessee foster care system.

  • The Helping Heroes Grant is available to honorably discharged veterans of the United State’s armed forces, and to reservists and current members of the Tennessee National Guard. Grant awards range from $500 to $1000, and can be used at any 2-year or 4-year state college or university.
  • The Tennessee Hope Foster Child Tuition Grant provides financial assistance to students, aged 14 or older, who are considered wards of the state. To be eligible students must meet the requirements of the Tennessee Hope Scholarship or the Tennessee Hope Grant. Recipients of the Hope Foster Tuition Grant are eligible to receive a full tuition grant less any other financial aid already received.

The financial aid programs discussed here are just a sampling of what is available to resident students in the state of Tennessee. Students should visit the dedicated website of the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation for further details on available scholarships and grants, as well as information on saving for college, applying for financial aid, and enrollment procedures for all of Tennessee’s state colleges and universities.