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Colleges in Tennessee

Why go to College in Tennessee?

Tennessee is a southeastern state that is home to the Great Smoky Mountains, Appalachian Trail, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The state is also home to several prestigious colleges, including Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee. If you want to receive a rigorous education and experience some southern charm, then you should considering one of the state’s many online schools in Tennessee.

Population

Tennessee is the 16th most populous state in the U.S. with a population of 6,651,194. In terms of population density, the state is ranked 20th in the nation, with roughly 158 residents per square mile. The state’s largest city and capital is Nashville, and its second largest city is Memphis.

Climate

Tennessee generally experiences all four seasons. The average annual high is 72.4 degrees Fahrenheit and the average annual low is 52.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The state does experience some snowfall in the winter months of January and February with an average annual snowfall of 3 inches.

Number of Higher Learning Institutions

There are 191 higher learning institutions in Tennessee. Some of the most well-known public universities in Tennessee include the University of Tennessee, University of Memphis, Middle Tennessee State University, and East Tennessee State University. Top private universities in Tennessee include Vanderbilt University, Rhodes College, and Union University. There are also several online colleges in Tennessee.

Sporting Events

Tennessee is home to the Tennessee Titans (NFL) and the Memphis Grizzlies (NBA), as well as a few minor league baseball teams. The state is also deeply engaged in college sports, with much of the state rooting for the Volunteers from the University of Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference.

Nightlife

The nightlife in Tennessee is rich in its major cities and college towns. Nashville is a great destination for live music venues, bars, and restaurants. As a host to the University of Tennessee and its students, Knoxville also boasts a decent selection of entertainment venues.

What Options are Available for Colleges in Tennessee?

On-Campus

Attending a traditional on-campus college in Tennessee offers a variety of benefits. You have the option of living on or near campus, close to all of your classes. You can easily engage in social activities on campus, whether it’s joining a student organization, meeting up with classmates to study for an exam, eating together at a dining hall, or playing intramural sports. Studying on-campus will also provide you with access to common study areas, library books, and free additional tutoring or academic aid.

Online Programs

Online colleges in Tennessee require the same amount of courses as their on-campus counterparts, except that all coursework can be completed remotely. Courses are offered online through a learning management system, where students can access lectures, assignments, and exams at any time. Online schools in Tennessee typically offer a combination of asynchronous and synchronous courses. Synchronous courses are similar to on-campus classes, where students must attend class at a set time and participate in class discussions. On the other hand, asynchronous classes allow students to complete coursework at their own pace. Both asynchronous and synchronous courses will have set deadlines for assignments and exams. Online colleges in TN are ideal for those who have other time commitments, like a full-time job or caring for children.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs offer a blend of on-campus and online coursework. Some courses are offered primarily online but include in-person capstone requirements, while others include lectures and assignments posted online with proctored exams offered on-campus. Hybrid programs are perfect for individuals who would like some scheduling flexibility but also crave in-person instruction and assistance. If a hybrid program sounds right for you, then you should check the websites of the online schools in Tennessee to see if there are any local programs.

Popular Degree Programs in Tennessee

Many students in Tennessee pursue a degree that corresponds to one of the largest or most popular industries in the state. In Tennessee, some of the major industries include professional and business services, agriculture, entertainment, manufacturing, and tourism. Business Insider found that general agriculture is by far the most popular degree in the state. In fact, Tennessee has more graduates with a general agriculture degree than any other state in the U.S. The following are two of the most popular degrees in the state of Tennessee:

  • Business Management and Administration

    A degree in business management and administration prepares students for careers in finance, accounting, marketing, supply chain management, and management information systems. Business management and administration programs provide students with foundational knowledge on a variety of business topics and allow them to concentrate on a specific sub-field.

  • General Agriculture

    General agriculture programs provide students with foundational knowledge on a variety of topics including farm management, animal science, soil science, poultry science, sustainability, and wildlife conservation. A degree in general agriculture prepares students for a variety of careers in the agricultural industry from crop farmer to agricultural equipment salesman.

BEST ONLINE COLLEGES IN TENNESSEE FOR 2017

There are several factors that go into determining the best online colleges in Tennessee, including student-to-faculty ratio, faculty reputation, student diversity, and variety of course offerings. However, it is also important to consider how online colleges in TN will help prepare you for your long-term career goals. For example, if you are interested in political science and would like to study abroad while in college, then you may want to choose a college that has both a strong online political science program and a variety of study abroad opportunities. Below is a list of the best online colleges in Tennessee and a brief description of each to help you narrow down your choices.

1

Johnson UniversityKnoxville, TN

Admissions Rate 58%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 57%
Online Enrollment 24%

Johnson University is a private Christian college located in Kimberlin Heights, just outside of Knoxville. Johnson boasts a rich history of distance education dating back more than a century, when the school first began offering correspondence courses. Today, Johnson is one of the best online colleges in Tennessee, offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in topics both religious and secular. Degree candidates can choose from bachelor’s programs in business administration, ministry leadership, nonprofit administration, pastoral studies, and intercultural studies. Graduate options include New Testament studies, intercultural studies, and business administration. Johnson also offers hybrid programs that allow students to take a mix of campus and online courses. Along with its main campus, the school operates education extension centers in Louisville, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

2

King UniversityBristol, TN

Admissions Rate 44%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 35%

Established in 1867, King University is a private, Presbyterian-affiliated college based in the city of Bristol. The school has satellite campuses in Kingsport, Nashville, and Knoxville. One of the top Christian online schools in Tennessee, King offers 11 bachelor’s degree programs, including English, healthcare administration, history, information technology, and religious studies. Many of King’s bachelor’s degrees are completion programs, meaning that students must complete their general education credits at another institution (typically a community college) or through the school’s Pathway and Quest programs. King is also home to two online master’s programs: nursing, with available concentrations in either administration or education, and business administration, with 11 concentration options including business analytics, healthcare management, leadership, and marketing.

3

Union UniversityJackson, TN

Admissions Rate 69%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 3%

Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Union University ranks as not just one of the best Christian colleges in the south, but one of the best colleges in general. The school offers two online undergraduate degrees: nursing and organizational leadership. Both degrees are completion programs that require candidates to complete lower division credits at another institution, typically either a community college or an accredited four year school. The nursing program also requires prospective students to be licensed as registered nurses to apply. Union conveniently maintains agreements with several state community colleges and the University of Memphis, making it simple to transfer credits. Students can complete either bachelor’s program in as few as 18 months.

4

University of MemphisMemphis, TN

Admissions Rate 40%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 11%

Home to more than 21,000 students, the University of Memphis is one of the largest colleges in Tennessee. Ranked as one of the top online schools in Tennessee, U of M hosts dozens of online degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Unique options include sports and leisure management, African and African American studies, public relations, healthcare management, and adult education. The school demonstrates its commitment to working students through the Prior Learning Assessment program, which allows professionals with relevant experience outside the classroom to translate their skills into academic credit. U of M also operates the Finish Line program, which offers support for returning students who have withdrawn from college in the past.

5

Trevecca Nazarene UniversityNashville, TN

Admissions Rate 73%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 51%
Online Enrollment 10%

Based in Nashville, Trevecca Nazarene University is a Christian liberal arts college with an annual enrollment of around 3,200 students. Despite its small size, the school is home to more than a dozen bachelor’s degree programs at all academic levels, with both secular and nonsecular programs available. Degree candidates can choose from programs such as organizational leadership, religion, English as a second language, and Christian ministry. All degrees available offered entirely online. Experienced working students can take advantage of the school’s Credit for Prior Learning Assessment program, allowing them to earn credit for relevant professional experiences such as workshops, training sessions, and military service.

6

Cumberland UniversityLebanon, TN

Admissions Rate 49%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 15%

The city of Lebanon is home to Cumberland University, a private institution that ranks as one of the top online colleges in Tennessee. The school offers one online bachelor’s degree in nursing and three master’s degrees in business administration, education, and nursing. The undergraduate nursing program is an RN to BSN, intended for working nurses who already possess licensure. The graduate nursing program prepares graduates for management or academic positions, with concentrations in either nursing education or nursing executive leadership and administration. Cumberland offers several options for financial aid and allows students to enroll in a payment plan. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents.

7

Tennessee Technological UniversityCookeville, TN

Admissions Rate 68%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 53%
Online Enrollment 7%

Emphasizing engineering and technology education, Tennessee Tech offers several distance education programs. Undergraduates have two degree options: interdisciplinary studies, a general liberal arts program that allows students to choose a humanities concentration area; or professional studies, which offers concentrations in health administration, information technology, international organizational leadership, or organizational leadership. At the graduate level, programs include business administration, accountancy, exercise studies, professional studies, education, and nursing. While most courses are available fully online, some graduate programs may require students to attend short orientation sessions on-campus at the beginning of the school year. Students in some programs may also be required to complete their final exams on-campus.

8

Lee UniversityCleveland, TN

Admissions Rate 85%
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 52%
Online Enrollment 13%

Lee University is a private Christian college in the city of Cleveland. The school’s online bachelor’s programs include secular offerings such as business administration, criminal justice, and liberal studies, along with religious programs in theology, Christian studies, and ministry leadership. The school also offers graduate programs in marriage and family studies, ministry studies, and business administration, as well as online certificates in subjects such as Christian education and Christian leadership. Lee is one of the more affordable online colleges in Tennessee, and undergraduate ministry majors receive a reduced tuition rate. The school offers many degree programs in a hybrid intensive format, which combines online courses with two weekend intensive campus sessions each academic term.

9

Carson-Newman UniversityJefferson City, TN

Admissions Rate 59%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 46%
Online Enrollment 17%

Based in Jefferson City, Carson-Newman University offers online bachelor’s programs in business administration, nursing, organizational leadership, and interdisciplinary studies. All the school’s bachelor’s degrees are completion programs, meaning that students must fulfill preliminary credit requirements before enrolling. Nursing students must hold a current nursing license, while applicants to other programs must possess at least 48 credits from another institution, such as a community college or another accredited four year college. The school’s graduate programs include social entrepreneurship, education, business administration, and education specialist. The education programs are hybrid degrees that require online learners to complete some courses on-campus. Carson-Newman maintains 10 education extension centers around the state, making it easy for students to complete campus requirements even if they live far from the main campus.

10

The University of Tennessee-MartinMartin, TN

Admissions Rate 70%
Default Rate 15%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 46%
Online Enrollment 13%

One of the five members of the University of Tennessee system, UT Martin serves around 6,700 students through its campus and online programs. Some of the school’s undergraduate degrees include interdisciplinary studies, business administration, nursing, and veterinary technology and management. The nursing program requires applicants to hold a current nursing license. The vet tech degree is a completion program that requires students to complete their lower division credits at another institution. UT Martin also offers two unique bachelor’s degree choices in agriculture: agricultural business or farm and ranch management. Both agricultural programs focus on the managerial and organizational dimensions of the agriculture industry. Graduate students can pursue unique, highly specialized degrees such as agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer science, and an MBA for banking and financial service professionals.

11

Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboro, TN

Admissions Rate 73%
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 8%

Based in Murfreesboro, Middle Tennessee State University is a comprehensive public college that enrolls more than 22,000 students annually. The school’s online education program dates back 20 years, making it one of the first online colleges in Tennessee. Today, more than a third of all students are enrolled in distance education courses. MTSU offers a wide selection of degree programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level, with unique options including aeronautical science, education specialist, and professional studies. Students can also major in liberal studies, a highly flexible degree that allows undergraduates to design their own course of study. The college supports working professionals through the largest adult education program in Tennessee, which helps students either begin their education or pick up where they left off.

12

Austin Peay State UniversityClarksville, TN

Admissions Rate 88%
Default Rate 15%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 36%
Online Enrollment 18%

One of the fastest growing online schools in Tennessee, Austin Peay State University serves around 9,800 students. The school offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees all fully online. APSU is a member of the TN eCampus, a consortium of state colleges that combine academic resources to offer increased support to online students. Degree candidates enrolled at APSU can take online courses through other eCampus member schools, which creates a more varied and flexible course selection. Online learners also receive a wide variety of support services from the college, including online student assistance, a distance education support desk, remote exam proctoring, and one-on-one technical training.

13

East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City, TN

Admissions Rate 79%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 43%
Online Enrollment 9%

Johnson City is home to East Tennessee State University, a major public college with a substantial online education program. The school’s undergraduate programs focus mainly on healthcare, including degrees in allied health leadership, respiratory therapy, dental hygiene, and radiologic science. There are also several mostly online programs, including English and marketing, that require some in-person meetings. Graduate students have access to several unique programs and certificates, including forensic document examination, school library media, global sports leadership, digital marketing, and community college leadership. ETSU’s online tuition rate is affordable and students can take advantage of several scholarships geared toward online learners and working professionals, including several transfer students scholarships and scholarships for students who are not traditional college freshmen. Out-of-state students enrolled exclusively in online courses receive a 50% tuition discount, making it one of the most affordable online colleges in Tennessee for non-resident students.

14

Bethel UniversityMcKenzie, TN

Admissions Rate 84%
Default Rate 14%
Retention Rate 60%
Graduation Rate 30%
Online Enrollment 44%

A private Christian college associated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bethel University maintains seven campuses around Tennessee and a substantial online program. Distance education students choose from several professionally focused degrees, including criminal justice, emergency services management, information technology, and customer relationship management. Applicants to the college must be at least 23 years old with either a high school diploma or GED and three years of professional work experience. Students can transfer up to 80 credits toward their degree. Bethel also accepts several alternative forms of experience for academic credit, including military service courses, police academy training, and portfolio papers demonstrating relevant work experience.

15

The University of Tennessee-ChattanoogaChattanooga, TN

Admissions Rate 79%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 2%

The University of Tennessee Chattanooga serves more than 12,000 students through its on-campus and online programs. The college offers two online bachelor’s degrees in nursing and criminal justice. Both programs are completion degrees that require students to complete their freshman and sophomore credits at another college (typically a community college) before transferring in at the junior level. Applicants to the nursing program must also hold a valid nursing license. Online graduate options include business administration, engineering management, criminal justice, and a doctorate in nursing practice. UTC’s online programs may require some on-campus courses, but never more than 20% of the overall degree curriculum. Students may be required to make occasional visits to campus for certain classroom courses, orientation sessions, or proctored exams.

Education Trends in Tennessee

Education trends in Tennessee are in line with the national averages. The percentage of adults over the age of 25 with a postsecondary education in Tennessee is just 2% lower than the rest of the country. This pattern persists for graduate degree holders over 25 as well. While Tennessee allocates a high percentage of tax revenue towards higher education, the average cost to earn a college education is still above the national average.

  Tennessee United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $7,051 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 7% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 663% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree 15.9% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 9% 11.2%

Paying for College in Tennessee

There is no question that the cost of an education is an important factor when it comes to choosing which college to attend. Beyond tuition prices, the cost of college also includes other expenses like textbooks, rent, food, transportation, utilities, and leisure activities. You should consider all of these costs and decide which ones you don’t mind spending more on and which ones you can cut back on to reduce costs.

Tuition Prices

Tuition costs in the U.S. can vary greatly depending on whether you’re studying at a public or private institution, at a two-year or four-year school, and whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. In general, private institutions cost more than public ones, four-year schools are more expensive than two-year schools, and out-of-state tuition is higher than in-state tuition. Be sure to remember that the total cost of an education also includes other expenses like textbooks, rent, and transportation.

Financial Aid

The first step for every student should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can take advantage of financial aid in many different forms, including loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. Grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back, meaning you should seek these out before any other type of financial aid. Work-study programs offer students the opportunity to work part-time while earning their degree to help pay for their education. Finally, federal student loans must be paid back, but offer payment deferments and much lower interest rates than private loans.

Cost for Online Programs in Tennessee

Students at online colleges in Tennessee have access to the same financial aid opportunities as their on-campus counterparts. While tuition costs are similar for both online and on-campus students, distance learners can save money by negating certain on-campus expenses like room and board, transportation, and textbooks. Many online courses have readings or online textbooks embedded into course modules, making it unnecessary to buy separate learning materials. This means that online students can contribute a greater percentage of their financial aid towards tuition costs, which makes distance learning an attractive option for many students.

Cost of Living by Region

Regional cost of living can greatly impact the total cost of earning an education, as many costs vary greatly from city to city. As a result, you should consider the local cost of living when calculating the cost of a college education and comparing different schools. For example, a student of Vanderbilt University in Nashville will pay more on average for rent than students of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Thankfully, rent prices in Tennessee are lower than in large metropolitan areas like Chicago and Austin.

Scholarships for Tennessee College Students

Tennessee Student Assistance Award

Up to $4,000 per year; must be a Tennessee resident, demonstrate financial need, and be enrolled at least part-time at an eligible Tennessee college or university.
View Scholarship

Tennessee Promise Scholarship

Varies; must be a Tennessee resident, enrolled full-time at a postsecondary institution, participate in a mentoring program, and perform 8 hours of community service each term.
View Scholarship

Steven L. Coffey Memorial Scholarship

$1,500 – $2,500 per year; must reside in Anderson County, have a minimum GPA of 2.5, and be enrolled full-time at Roane State Community College or Pellissippi State Community College with the possibility of transferring to an accredited public college or university in Tennessee.
View Scholarship

Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Jeff Byrd Memorial Scholarship

$2,000; must be a resident of Tennessee, pursue a sports-related field and be enrolled full-time at an accredited public or private university or college in Tennessee.
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Lawrence Strader Boy Scouts of America Scholarship

$3,000 per year; must reside in a qualifying Tennessee county, be a registered member of Boy Scouts of America, and be enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered.
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Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant

$2,000; must be enrolled in a certificate or degree program at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology and be a Tennessee resident at the time of application.
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Ned McWherter Scholars Program

$6,000 per year; must be a Tennessee resident, enrolled full-time at a Tennessee college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.5, and have a minimum ACT score of 29 or the SAT equivalent.
View Scholarship

Dependent Children Scholarship Program

Varies; must be a resident of Tennessee, attend an eligible college or university in Tennessee, and be a dependent of a police officer, fireman, or emergency medical service technician who was killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.
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Tennessee HOPE Scholarship

Up to $2,250 per semester; must be a Tennessee resident, graduate from an eligible TN high school, enrolled in a TN postsecondary institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0, have a minimum ACT score of 21 or the SAT equivalent to be considered. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 each semester to remain eligible for renewal.
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Middle College Scholarship

$1,200 per year; must be a Tennessee resident for one year by the time of application, have a minimum GPA of 3.0 by the end of their sophomore year in high school, and enroll in an eligible community college in junior year of high school.
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Helping Heroes Grant

$1,000 per semester; must be a Tennessee resident for a year by the time of application, have been honorably discharged from the military, and be enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution.
View Scholarship

Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship

$1,750 per semester; must a Tennessee resident, have graduated from a Tennessee high school or completed an Individualized Education Program, and be enrolled in an eligible postsecondary institution. This scholarship is designed for students with intellectual disabilities.
View Scholarship

Michael Jackson Scholarship

Up to $5,000; must be a communications, arts, or social science student at a UNCF college or university and have a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered.
View Scholarship

Employment Outlook in Tennessee

The employment outlook in Tennessee is positive, with only a 3.3% unemployment rate. The mean hourly wage in the state is $20.36, which is significantly higher than the national minimum wage. However, the mean annual salary in Tennessee is approximately $7,000 lower than the national average. We recommend doing research on your field to determine is Tennessee is the right state for you post-graduation.

  Tennessee United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, May 2017 3.3% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $42,350 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in Tennessee

Top Industries in Tennessee

  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities: This sector includes retail trade, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, as well as the provision of utilities. Employees in this sector may be responsible for distributing products to consumers, buying or selling merchandise to other individuals or companies, delivering cargo or transporting passengers, or providing electric and gas services.
  • Education and Health Services: This industry includes the sectors of education, healthcare, and social assistance. Employees in this sector may work for a university or K-12 school, a hospital or health insurance company, or social services agency or organization.
  • Professional and Business Services: This industry encompasses all sectors involved in providing a specialized professional, scientific, or technical service. Common occupations in this industry, such as lawyers, accountants, and scientific researchers, usually require a high degree of training and education.

Source: Nashville Chamber of Commerce


Top Employers in Tennessee

  • Eastman Chemical Co.: 10,000 employees
  • Southern Tennessee Medical Center: 9,300 employees
  • Covenant Transportation Group: 5,000 employees

Source: Source: Business Climate

Accreditation for Colleges in Tennessee

Studying at an accredited college assures that you will receive a quality education. Accrediting agencies ensure that their member schools meet certain regulations and requirements to maintain their accreditation. Academic accreditation standardizes requirements for all schools and ensures a minimum level of quality. There are two main types of accreditation in the U.S.: regional and national. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national and is often earned by public nonprofit universities. It is also easier to transfer credits from one regionally accredited school to another, which makes accreditation especially important for transfer students. On the other hand, national accreditation is typically pursued by for-profit colleges and trade or vocational schools.

Resources for Students in Tennessee

  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission & Student Assistance Corporation: This is a government website that contains information about federal and state financial aid programs available for students in Tennessee, from scholarships and grants to loan forgiveness programs. It also provides general information about FAFSA and financial aid applications.
  • The East Tennessee Foundation: The East Tennessee Foundation is a public, nonprofit organization dedicated to philanthropic efforts in the community. They provide a variety of different scholarships and grants for college education. Students can search through the available grants by county on the organization’s website.
  • The United Negro College Fund: The UNCF is a philanthropic organization dedicated to providing financial assistance for African American college students and for sponsoring general scholarships at historically black universities and colleges. This is a great resource for minority students seeking funding opportunities.
  • College for TN: College for Tennessee is a website where students can plan for college and future careers. It allows students to take career assessment surveys, find out more about Tennessee colleges, and explore financial aid options.
  • Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association: TICUA is a coalition of private colleges and universities that work together to maintain cost efficiency, professional development, and other services to ensure a quality education for students and citizens. Their website contains information on education research and financial aid for students, as well as resources for educators.
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