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The State of Tennessee offers many college scholarships and grants. These financial aid programs are administered by the TN Higher Education Commission & Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. Below, you will find a list of these programs with relevant links. 

Before applying for scholarships, it’s important to read all eligibility requirements. In addition to being a Tennessee resident, most state-funded financial aid requires the completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid. However, it’s also used by states to determine your eligibility for prizes based on financial need.

Whether you’re currently a high school senior or an undergraduate student, it’s a good move to apply for scholarships. The cost of college education can be significant, but scholarships can help you avoid student loans. Winning scholarships can also help grow your career opportunities. So, let’s not wait any longer. Here is a list of college scholarship opportunities for Tennessee high school students and undergraduates.

Tennessee Scholarship Programs

Tennessee HOPE Scholarship

The TN 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. To be eligible, students must be a resident of Tennessee. Applicants must also graduate from an eligible Tennessee high school. Entering freshmen must achieve a minimum of a 21 ACT or a minimum of 1060 SAT, exclusive of the essay and optional subject area battery tests. Alternatively, students must have a 3.0 GPA.

Students who do not meet these criteria may qualify under the nontraditional stream. 

For four-year programs, students can receive up to $2,850 per semester and up to $1,600 per semester at two-year institutions. 

Aspire Award

The Aspire Award is established and funded from the net proceeds of the state lottery and awarded to entering freshmen as a supplement to the HOPE Scholarship.  To be eligible, students must meet the requirements for the Tennessee Hope Scholarship. Applicants must also have parents’ or independent student’s and spouse’s adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less on IRS tax form.

For four-year programs, students can receive up to $750 per semester and up to $250 per semester at two-year institutions. 

General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS)

The GAMS is established and funded from the net proceeds of the state lottery and awarded to entering freshmen as a supplement to the HOPE Scholarship. To be eligible, students must have a minimum 3.75  GPA* AND 29 ACT or a minimum 1330 SAT, exclusive of the essay and optional subject area battery tests.

The award offers up to $500 per semester as a supplement to the HOPE Scholarship; including summer.

Tennessee Promise Scholarship

The Tennessee Promise Scholarship offers eligible Tennessee college students an award toward tuition and mandatory fees after all other gift aid has been applied. To be eligible, students must attend mandatory meetings and participate in a mentoring program.  College students must attend full-time, continue to participate in the mentoring program, and perform 8 hours of community service prior to each term the award is received. 

Award amount varies based on amount of remaining tuition and mandatory fees after all other gift aid has been applied.

Dependent Children Scholarship Program

The Dependent Children Scholarship Program provides aid for Tennessee students attending college who are dependent children of a Tennessee law enforcement officer, firefighter, 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 scholarship fund is awarded to full-time undergraduate students attending eligible Tennessee institutions.

Award amount varies. 

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. To be eligible, applicants must have at least a 3.5 unweighted cumulative grade point average and a minimum composite score of 29 on the ACT.

The award is $6,000 per academic year, $3,000 from the State of Tennessee and $3,000 from the college or university attended. 

Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship

The Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship is a program designed to assist students with intellectual disabilities who have completed high school and enroll in an individualized program of study of up to four years at an eligible postsecondary institution.

Award amount is up to $2,250 per full-time enrollment semester as a freshman and sophomore; then up to $2,850 per full-time enrollment semester as a junior and senior. Students may receive up to $1,600 per year at a two-year institution. 

Tennessee Grant Programs

Tennessee Student Assistance Award

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. The TSAA is a state-funded grant program. Award recipients must attend an eligible Tennessee school, college or university and be enrolled at least half time. You must list the eligible institution as your first choice when you initially complete your FAFSA. 

Award amounts are as follows: four-year/two-year private $4,000; four-year public $2,000; two-year public $2,000; career Schools $2,000; TN College of Applied Technology $2,000.

Tennessee Reconnect Grant

The TN Reconnect Grant is available to students who are classified as independent on the FAFSA OR at least 23 years of age by January 1 of the academic year who have not previously earned an associate degree or more advanced degree and are enrolled in an eligible program of study. To be eligible, students must maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) at the end of each academic year. Applicants must also participate in a college success program, as determined by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).

Award amount varies based on amount of remaining tuition and mandatory fees after all other gift aid has first been applied. 

Dual Enrollment Grant

The Dual Enrollment Grant program is defined as a grant for study at an eligible postsecondary institution. The program 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. 

This program has a lengthy list of eligibility criteria. Award amount varies. 

Minority Teaching Fellows Program

The Minority Teaching Fellows Program is intended to encourage talented minority Tennesseans to enter the teaching field in Tennessee. Those who accept the award must sign a promissory note and in doing so incur an obligation to teach PreK-12 in a Tennessee public school one year for each year the award is received. Recipients must be employed as a full-time teacher to be considered for forgiveness. The recipient must maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and attend full-time to remain eligible.

The award is $5,000 per year for students who pursue a teacher certification at an eligible Tennessee college or university.

Helping Heroes Grant

The Helping Heroes Grant is established and funded from the net proceeds of the state lottery and awarded to US veterans who were honorably discharged or who are a former or current member of a reserve or TN National Guard unit. 

Award amounts vary between $500 and $1,000 depending on hours of enrollment per semester. 

Tennessee HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant

The Tennessee HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant offers financial aid for students who were in state custody after the age of thirteen. 

This award varies in amount depending on tuition and mandatory fees. 

Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant

The Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant is established and funded from the net proceeds of the state lottery and awarded to students who are enrolled at a TN College of Applied Technology. To be eligible, applicants must enroll in a certificate or diploma program at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology and maintain satisfactory academic progress and continuous enrollment

This award offers $2,000 per academic year. 

Find More Scholarships and Grants for Tennessee

Colleges

The above list is just a small fraction of scholarships and grants available for college students in Tennessee. In addition to these state-funded opportunities, there are many private scholarships that you may qualify for. To help connect you with these opportunities, you can use our free scholarship finder.

It’s also a good idea to speak with your school’s guidance counselor or financial aid office. Both of these resources can connect you with school-specific or local scholarships that often have less competition.

Scholarship awards can be a great way to help you graduate debt-free, and they can also help differentiate your record from other students. In short, scholarships demonstrate your commitment to excellence and provide evidence of the hard work you have put in during your academic career. 

Scholarships for College or University for high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students.

A Resource List of Scholarship and Grant Programs in Your Home State