A college education has become a significant expense for most families and requires careful planning. Whatever your financial situation is, we encourage you to use this information to help you understand college funding so you can navigate the financial aid process with greater ease.

State Financial Aid

States provide many financial aid opportunities to help ease the cost of a college education. Please select the state you reside in to learn about state sponsored internships, scholarships and financial aid programs for undergraduate students and assistantships, fellowships, and residency programs for graduate and professional students.


For more detailed information on state financial aid programs contact:

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Parkway Towers

Suite 1900

404 James Robertson Parkway

Nashville, TN 37243


Tennessee Student Assistance Commission (TSAC)

Parkway Towers

Suite 1950

404 James Robertson Parkway

Nashville, TN 37243-0820

Local (615) 741-1346

In State for Grant Information 800-342-1663

In State for Loan Information 800-447-1523

Out of State for Loan Information 800-257-6526

FAX (615) 741-6101


Please go to the website for all the information on each of the programs .

The following are financial aid programs available to students who are residents of the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee Student Assistance Awards (TSAA)

The Tennessee Student Assistance Award Program (TSAA) was established to provide non-repayable financial assistance to financially-needy undergraduate students who are residents of Tennessee. Applicants must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment, at least half time, at a public or an eligible non-public postsecondary institution in Tennessee. Funds are awarded on a first come, first-served basis. The TSAA is a state-funded grant program and includes funds from the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation and the federal LEAP program.

Go to website for additional information

The Helping Heroes Grant

The award amount is $1,000 per semester for a student who successfully completes twelve (12) or more semester hours with no failing grade as the final grade for the course. The student shall receive 0 per semester for successfully completing six (6) to eleven (11) semester hours with no failing grade as a final grade for the course. The student shall not receive an award if enrolled in fewer than six (6) semester hours.

Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant

Award amount – $2,000 (no more than cost of attendance)

Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant Recipients Must:

  • Enroll in a certificate or diploma program at a Tennessee Technology Center.
  • Cannot be prior recipient of Tennessee HOPE Scholarship or Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant
  • Available to all students enrolled at a Tennessee Technology Center who are TN residents 1 year prior to the term school begins

Under certain circumstances, Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant recipients who complete their diploma from a Tennessee Technology Center consisting of at least nine hundred (900) clock hours may be eligible to receive a HOPE Scholarship by enrolling at an eligible two-year or four-year postsecondary institution within three years of completing a diploma.

Lottery Scholarship at a Glance

: Lottery Scholarship Eligibility Requirement Sheet

Award amount – $2,750 for 4-year institutions (and 2-year schools offering on-campus housing); $1,750 for 2-year institutions

  • Entering freshmen must have a minimum weighted 2.75 GPA AND 18 – 20 ACT (860 – 970 SAT), exclusive of the essay and optional subject area battery tests AND
  • Parents’ or independent student’s and spouse’s adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less on IRS tax form
  • Grant non-renewable – Student will be eligible for Tennessee HOPE Scholarship by meeting HOPE Scholarship renewal criteria and maintaining enrollment and other applicable requirements without the award

Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program (TELS) (Promulgated Rules)

Information can be found on the web.

HOPE and HOPE Access Recipients Must:

  • Enroll in one of the Tennessee public colleges, universities, or private colleges. Click Here for listing.
  • Enroll within 16 months following high school graduation or completion of a homeschool or GED program. Enrollment at an ineligible postsecondary institution during this time will make the student permanently ineligible.
  • Click Here for listing of eligible high schools based on qualifying ACT/SAT results OR final weighted high school grade point average.
  • Click Here for listing of eligible high schools based on qualifying ACT/SAT results only.

Tennessee HOPE Scholarship—Non-traditional Component

The non-traditional student must be a Tennessee resident, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and be enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution. In addition, the student must:

  • Be age 25 or older, as an entering freshman in an eligible postsecondary institution or have not been enrolled for at least two (2) years after last attending any postsecondary institution
  • Must have parents’ or independent student’s and spouse’s adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less on IRS tax form
  • Be continuously enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution in the fall and spring semesters and maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 after 12 and 24 attempted semester hours
  • To continue receiving the HOPE Scholarship, the non-traditional student shall meet the HOPE Scholarship Renewal Criteria mentioned above

The non-traditional student shall continue receiving the HOPE Scholarship until the FIRST of the following terminating events:

  • The student has earned a baccalaureate degree; or
  • If the student previously received a HOPE Scholarship, the sum of the number of years the non-traditional student received the non-traditional HOPE Scholarship and the HOPE Scholarship from previous years equals five (5) years; or
  • Five (5) years have passed since the student enrolled in an eligible postsecondary institution as a non-traditional student

A non-traditional student shall not be eligible for the Aspire Award or the General Assembly Merit Award.

Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Programs

Eligible Institutions

Tennessee Hope Foster Child Tuition Grant

A foster child is defined as one who was in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services:

  1. For at least one (1) year after reaching fourteen (14) years of age;
  2. For at least one (1) year after reaching fourteen (14) years of age and placed for adoption by the Department of Children’s Services or one of its adoption contract agencies and the adoption was finalized; or
  3. For at least one (1) year and placed in permanent guardianship by the Department of Children’s Services after reaching fourteen (14) years of age.

The receipt of a Tennessee HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant is contingent upon the following:

  1. Student must meet the high school requirements for the Tennessee HOPE scholarship or Tennessee HOPE Access grant; and
  2. Be admitted to an eligible postsecondary institution. Academically qualifying for any of these award programs does not guarantee admission to an eligible postsecondary institution.

Dual Enrollment Grant

(On-Line Application)


The Dual Enrollment Grant program is defined as a grant for study at an eligible postsecondary institution that is funded from net proceeds of the state lottery and awarded to students who are attending an eligible high school and who are also enrolled in college courses at eligible postsecondary institutions for which they will receive college credit.

The Dual Enrollment Grant program is funded by the Tennessee Lottery and administered by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. This program provides opportunities for students to begin working toward a college degree, while still pursuing a high school diploma, and encourages post-secondary education and the acceleration of post-secondary attainment.

Ned McWherter Scholars Program

The Ned McWherter Scholars Program is intended to encourage academically superior Tennessee high school graduates to attend college in Tennessee. Tennessee high school seniors starting their last semester in high school may apply.

Christa McAuliffe Scholarship Program

The Tennessee General Assembly created this scholarship program to honor the memory of Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher who lost her life in the space shuttle Challenger accident. The scholarship program was established to encourage promising Tennesseans who have a commitment to teaching and inspiring young minds to explore and achieve their highest potential.

The scholarship is intended to assist and support a Tennessee resident who has demonstrated a commitment to a career in educating the youth of Tennessee. This is a one time $500 scholarship.

Dependent Children Scholarship Program

The Dependent Children Scholarship Program provides aid for Tennessee residents who are dependent children of a Tennessee law enforcement officer, fireman, or an emergency medical service technician who has been killed or totally and permanently disabled while performing duties within the scope of such employment. The parent must be a Tennessee resident and have been on duty when the incident occurred. The scholarship is awarded to full-time undergraduate students attending eligible Tennessee institutions.

Awards are made in equal installments each term throughout the academic year. The award may be renewed three times for a total of four years or the period required for the completion of the program of study. The recipient must be enrolled full-time and maintain satisfactory progress to remain eligible. The awards are subject to funding.

The Minority Teaching Fellows Program is intended to encourage talented minority Tennesseans to enter the teaching field in Tennessee. The award is $5,000 per year for students who pursue a teacher certification at an eligible Tennessee institution.

Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program

The Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program is intended to encourage exemplary students to enter the teaching field in Tennessee. Participation is limited to college juniors, seniors, and post baccalaureate candidates admitted to a teacher education program in a Tennessee college or university.

Graduate Nursing Loan-Forgiveness Program

The Graduate Nursing Loan-Forgiveness Program is designed to encourage Tennessee residents who are registered nurses to become teachers and administrators in Tennessee nursing education programs.

Tennessee Math & Science Teacher Loan Forgiveness

The Tennessee Math & Science Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program provides financial assistance to Tennessee public school teachers seeking an advanced degree in a math or a science, or a certification to teach a math or a science. Loan forgiveness requires employment in a Tennessee public school system two (2) years for each year of the loan funding received.

Eligible Institutions

Tennessee Rural Health Loan Forgiveness Program

The award amount shall not exceed twelve thousand dollars ($12,000) per academic year, or the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books and equipment,whichever is less. For the purpose of this program, health resource shortage area means an area determined as a health resource shortage area by the Department of Health, Office of Rural Health.

Tennessee Rural Health Loan Forgiveness Programs

Eligible Institutions and (Fact Sheet)

John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

Congress enacted the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act (the “Act”), codified at 42 U.S.C. §3797cc-21, to encourage qualified attorneys to choose careers as prosecutors and public defenders and to continue in that service. The John R. Justice (JRJ) Grant Program provides loan repayment assistance for local, state, and federal public defenders and local and state prosecutors who commit to continued employment as public defenders and prosecutors for at least three years.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has awarded funds to all 50 states and the District of Columbia to serve eligible recipients working within their respective jurisdiction. Each state is required to distribute funding across geographic and population areas to ensure all areas of the state are equitably represented. Funds also are to be divided evenly between prosecutors and defenders. Program guidelines are outlined below.

Tennessee BEST Savings Program

The BEST Prepaid 529 College Tuition Plan was established to allow parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and other interested parties to save for future college expenses by purchasing “tuition units” for a child based on the current weighted average tuition costs at Tennessee’s four-year public universities. The “tuition units” grow in value as the weighted average tuition increases each academic year.

Each “tuition unit” purchased entitles the beneficiary, that is, the person for whom the units were purchased, to an amount equal to one percent (1%) of the current year’s weighted average tuition at Tennessee’s four-year public colleges and universities for a “normal” academic load (two (2) semesters with 15 credit hours each). So, if a parent or other interested party were to purchase 100 units, they would have paid for approximately one-year’s average college tuition at a four-year college or university in Tennessee.

Because the BEST Prepaid Plan is a qualified tuition program under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, the increases in the value of these “tuition units” over time are federal income tax exempt so long as they are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses.

When the child enrolls in college, the “tuition units” can be used to pay for qualified higher education costs at colleges and universities both inside and outside of Tennessee. They can also be used to cover the cost of books, mandatory fees, room and board, equipment or supplies required for attendance orenrollment, and computers and computer software. The Guide to Using Tuition Units provides examples of the approximate number of units needed to cover tuition and mandatory fees and room and board at various public and private colleges and universities in the state of Tennessee.

The Purchaser (person who opens the account) or the Beneficiary (person for whom the units were purchased), must be a resident of Tennessee when the Prepaid College Tuition Plan contract is opened. If a family moves out of Tennessee after a child is enrolled in the plan, tuition units may still be purchased on behalf of the child, and the child will remain eligible for all plan benefits.

BEST Prepaid Plan investments are not backed by the full faith and credit of the State of Tennessee. Assets of the Prepaid College Tuition trust fund are preserved, invested and expended solely pursuant to and for the purposes set forth in the laws governing BEST. For more information about the plan, please review the Terms and Conditions information.

More information is available on the web at: http://www.tn.gov/collegepays/