State Financial Aid for Undergraduates
The state funds several scholarships and grants through the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS) Program.
The Tennessee HOPE scholarship provides merit-based aid to recent high school graduates who attended approved Tennessee public or independent institutions. Students must have a score of 21 on the ACT (or 1060 SAT) or a 3.0 weighted high school GPA. Students must maintain a 2.75 college GPA to renew the HOPE scholarship for the first 48 credit-hours attempted and a 3.0 GPA to renew after 72 credit-hours attempted. The maximum annual award is $3,500 for freshmen and sophomores. The annual maximum award for juniors and seniors is $4,500.
HOPE scholars may qualify for supplemental awards, including the General Assembly Merit Scholarship and the need-based ASPIRE Award.
The General Assembly Merit Scholarship provides up to $1,500 per year if HOPE Scholars score at least 29 on the ACT Composite (or 1350 SAT) and earn a weighted high school GPA of 3.75.
The ASPIRE Award provides up to $1,500 per year if the adjusted gross income of HOPE Scholars, their parents, or spouses (if applicable) is less than $36,000, as measured by the federal IRS formula.
The HOPE Access Grant provides financial aid to students who earn a 2.75 weighted high school GPA, score at least an 18 on the ACT (or 940 on the SAT) and have an annual household income of $36,000 or less. While the HOPE Access Grant expires after one academic year, students can receive the HOPE scholarship if they maintain a 2.75 GPA for their first two semesters of college. The maximum award for the non-renewable grant is $2,500.
The Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant, also part of TELS Program, is available to Tennessee residents who attend one the state’s 27 colleges of applied technology.
The state also manages two grant programs outside of the TELS framework. Tennessee graduates who qualify for the Federal Pell Grant and have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) under $2,100 can receive additional aid through the Tennessee Student Assistance Award. Funding is limited and awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Tennessee Promise Scholarship is a last-dollar award, meaning the program covers the remaining portion of tuition and fees after deducting proceeds from for federal and state aid sources. Recipients may use the award to pursue certificates, technical diplomas, and associate degrees.