Top 15 Most Affordable Colleges in Tennessee in 2021 - Best Value Schools

Top 15 Most Affordable Colleges in Tennessee in 2021

February 12, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Ready for Higher Education on a Budget? The 15 Cheapest Colleges in Tennessee Have You Covered

When you’re in the process of furthering your education, it can be hard to weigh the costs and the benefit. While you know the knowledge and experience you’ll gain while earning your degree can go a long way in creating a successful professional career, justifying the cost of four years (or more) of a college education can feel impossible. When you add in commuting fees, books, lab fees, school supplies, and more, the cost can feel overwhelming.

While grants, loans, employer assistance, and scholarships can help, they can only go so far. Most people end up paying a significant percentage of their tuition out of pocket. It’s key to consider the cost of tuition before you commit to a school. Luckily, many schools in Tennessee work to provide students with a high-quality education at a cost that makes getting a degree attainable.

Here, we’ll explore fifteen different lower-cost options for higher education in Tennessee. If you’re in the process of applying to schools, do so with tuition in mind. In addition to choosing a lower-cost institution, talk with your school’s financial aid office about the options available to you for getting your tuition and fees as low as possible.

Rank School Location
1Austin Peay State UniversityClarksville, Tennessee
2Tennessee Technological UniversityCookeville, Tennessee
3The University of Tennessee at ChattanoogaChattanooga, Tennessee
4Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboro, Tennessee
5East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City, Tennessee
1

Austin Peay State University

  • Clarksville, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 39%

Known for high-quality education at an exceptional value, Austin Peay State University in Clarksville is our top pick for the best value college in Tennessee. A four-year, doctoral-level university, Peay State gives students access to world-class faculty in small class settings. Peay is committed to supporting the community of Clarksville, as well as to providing busy students with online and in-classroom learning opportunities that make sense for their busy schedules.

School Overview

Tuition: $6,576 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 17:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website
2

Tennessee Technological University

  • Cookeville, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 50%

With just over 10,000 students, Tennessee Tech is large enough to provide students with research opportunities that will set them apart in their field but small enough to provide individualized attention. 10% of students at Tennessee Tech attend class on a part-time basis, allowing them to pay for their education incrementally over time.

School Overview

Tuition: $8,934 per year for in-state tuition
Student to Teacher Ratio: 18:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website
3

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 44%

The University of Tennessee isn’t just committed to providing Tennesse students with a low-cost education: the school also offers tuition discounts to students who live in the states that border Tennessee. U of T offers many major options, including engineering, health careers, business, and more.

School Overview

Tuition: $6,888 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 19:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website
4

Middle Tennessee State University

  • Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 42%

MTSU is committed to providing students with an affordable education. The school provides students with $20 million in scholarships each year. With high-tech facilities and small classes, students at MTSU get a high-quality education at a cost that makes sense. At MTSU, faculty stay on the pulse of their industries, constantly changing curriculum so that students are prepared to meet the needs of future employers.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,070 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 17:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website
5

East Tennessee State University

  • Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 39%

East Tennessee State walks a line that’s valuable to students – the school is large enough to provide world-class faculty to the student body and small enough to give students the individualized attention they need to thrive. The school offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and provides options for online learning, allowing students with busy schedules to get their degree in a way that makes sense for them.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,259 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 15:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website

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6

University of Memphis

  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 41%

This large, public research university provides Tenneessee students with experience-based, hands-on learning that fully prepares them to succeed in the professional world. University of Memphis students enjoy small classes at a price that makes sense. U of M offers both on-campus and online classes to help students develop a class schedule that makes sense for them.

School Overview

Tuition: $7,680 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 15:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website
7

Tennessee State University

  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 33%

Tennessee State University in Nashville is a leading research institution designed to help students become leaders in the field. With rich extracurricular offerings, small class sizes, and myriad opportunities to network with faculty and alumni, Tennessee State University is committed to helping students succeed in their fields – at a price that makes sense.

School Overview

Tuition: $7,684 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 18:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website
8

The University of Tennessee – Martin

  • Martin, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 48%

WIth history ranging back to 1900, students know that they’re getting a recognizable, high-quality education from The University of Tennessee. The Martin campus gives students easy access to Nashville, Memphis, and Jackson via drives of a few hours, providing internship and networking opportunities as students get ready to enter their professional fields.

School Overview

Tuition: $8,052 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 15:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Visit School Website
9

American Baptist College

  • Nashville, Tennessee

This Historically Black College in Nashville has a total enrollment of 123 students, allowing for a deeply personal student-faculty experience. At American Baptist, students and faculty members know one another by name and can form lasting relationships that can have benefits for networking in the future. 3/4 of students at American Baptist receive a need-based financial aid package.

School Overview

Tuition: $8,760 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 14:1
Accreditation: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation
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10

Lane College

  • Jackson, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 20%

This small, private, church-affiliated school is located on 55 acres in rural Tennessee and allows students to develop close bonds with classmates and faculty while earning their degrees. 98% of students at Lane receive need-based scholarships, as the school is committed to helping students get an education despite any financial hardships they may have experienced in life.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,000 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 15:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Visit School Website
11

Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences

  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 60%

Baptist Memorial offers many programs for students who are ready to begin careers in the healthcare industry. Programs include nursing, biomedical sciences, health administration, medical laboratory science, and more. While the focus of a Baptist education is healthcare, the school prides itself on providing comprehensive, well-rounded programs to help students succeed in all aspects of their professional careers.

School Overview

Tuition: $12,332 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 18:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
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12

LeMoyne-Owen College

  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 12%

LeMoyne-Owen students enjoy getting to know faculty members in small classes. More than 3/4 of the classes at LeMoyne-Owen have fewer than 20 students, making it easier for students to get the individualized attention that they need to succeed. The only Historically Black College in Memphis, LeMoyne-Owen prides itself on creating a home away from home for its students.

School Overview

Tuition: $11,196 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 13:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
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13

Williamson Christian College

  • Franklin, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 16%

Williamson Christian provides students with a rigorous, Christian-focused education that allows for study abroad opportunities, extracurricular involvement, and more. Williamson Christian is proud to provide students with flexible scheduling options so that they’re able to earn their degrees, no matter what other responsibilities they have in life.

School Overview

Tuition: $11,590 per year for in-state students
Student to Teacher Ratio: 17:1
Accreditation: Association for Biblical Higher Education
Visit School Website

Methodology

We considered several factors while ranking schools for this list, including accreditation, student to teacher ratio, per-credit tuition cost, fees, degree recognition, and more. While tuition was one of the top factors in the rankings on this list, we also considered other factors (financial aid availability, average aid packages offered to students, etc.) to ensure that we were able to rank schools appropriately.

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If you’re an admissions professional and your school is listed here and you’d like to update our information, or you’d like your school to be listed in a future article, we’d love to talk to you. Reach out to us today. We’re looking forward to chatting with you and answering any questions that you have.

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