When many students consider college, one of their biggest worries is how to pay for it. Although college is expensive, for many it is the key to their preferred occupation. Teaching, nursing, engineering, and many other rewarding careers require additional education. Create a workable plan for how to pay for your college education before you ever go to the first class.
Typically, students have four options from which to choose when deciding how to pay for their college education.
Some scholarships and grant programs are funded by the federal government and open to any resident of the United States. However, if you live in the state of Tennessee, there are many state-specific options for funding your college education.
The most familiar scholarship program to Tennessee students is the Tennessee Lottery Scholarship. This program is funded by the Tennessee Lottery and provides various scholarships for many different kinds of students attending eligible Tennessee colleges. One does not need to be a traditional student to receive a Tennessee Lottery Scholarship. These programs seek to help all types of students reach their dreams of a college education. www.tn.gov
The scholarship program that most Tennessee residents associate with the lottery is the HOPE Scholarship. To receive this scholarship, one must have a score of 21 or higher on the ACT test (980 SAT) or a weighted high school grade point average of 3.0 or higher. This scholarship is also open to GED applicants who have scored 525 or higher and a score 21 on the ACT (980 SAT). Home-schooled students can receive the HOPE Scholarship as well. A home-school student need not submit his high school GPA, but must score a minimum of 21 on the ACT test (980 SAT).
The HOPE Scholarship pays up to $6,000 per year in college tuition at eligible two and four year colleges that provide on-campus housing. Students who wish to attend an eligible two-year college that does not provide on-campus living arrangements can be rewarded up to $3,000. These funds are divided equally between fall, spring, and summer semesters, although one need not attend summer sessions to keep the scholarship.
One can attend full time or part time and still receive the HOPE scholarship. However, you must attend a minimum of six hours in the fall and spring semesters to keep the scholarship; Keep in mind, though, that you will not receive the full amount of the scholarship if not taking a full load.
To keep the HOPE scholarship, one must keep a GPA of 2.75 in the first two years of college and a GPA of 3.0 in the last two years. If you lose the scholarship because of low grades, but the in next semester raise your GPA, you can regain the funding. However, this can only occur one time, before the scholarship is permanently lost.
Non-traditional students can also receive HOPE scholarships if they make less than $36,000 a year. These students must be older than 25, and have not attended college in the previous two years. Non-traditional students must be continuously enrolled in the fall and spring semesters and maintain a GPA of 2.75 after their first 12 attempted semester hours.
The Tennessee General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS) seeks to reward high achieving Tennessee students. This scholarship is a supplement to the HOPE scholarship. Tennessee students are eligible for the GAMS if they graduate from a Tennessee public schools or class 1,2, or 3 private schools, achieve at least a 3.75 GPA, and score at least 29 on the ACT (1280 SAT).
Additionally, home-schooled students can qualify if they take four college level classes (total of 12 semester hours) as dual-enrollment during high school and maintain a 3.0 GPA in these classes. Home-schooled students must achieve the same ACT test grades as other students. (29 ACT/ 1280 SAT)
The General Assembly Merit Scholarship gives students up to $1500 per year, divided between spring, summer and fall semesters. Part-time students also qualify for this scholarship on a pro-rated basis. The qualifications for the GAMS are the same as for the HOPE scholarship.
While the HOPE scholarship seeks to help all eligible Tennessee students to attend college, the Aspire Award focuses on lower income families. You can receive the Aspire Award if your parents (if you are a dependent student) or you and your spouse make less than $36,000. The qualifications are the same as the HOPE scholarship. You can receive up to $2,500 along with your HOPE scholarship, divided evenly between spring, summer, and fall semesters.
If your grades and ACT scores are not high enough to earn the HOPE scholarship, but you still want to attend college, this grant program will give you a chance to receive the HOPE scholarship after enrolling in college. If your family income is less than $36,000, you can receive the Tennessee HOPE Access Grant.
To receive this grant you must have a high school GPA of 2.75 and an ACT score of between 18-20 (860 – 970 SAT). This grant, however, is only good for one year. If you achieve the requirements of the HOPE scholarship during your freshman year, (GPA of 2.75) you can apply for and receive the regular HOPE scholarship for the remainder of your college career. If you struggled in high school, this scholarship gives you a second chance to receive the HOPE scholarship.
If you are not interested in college, but you still want to further your education, or gain a certification in a particular area, you too can take advantage of Tennessee Lottery Grants. The Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant seeks to help people of all ages and skills fund their learning at a Tennessee Technology Center.
No academic criteria are necessary to receive this grant, but one must be enrolled at a Tennessee Technology Center and maintain academic progress to continue to receive it. One is not even required to have a high school diploma to use this money.
This grant has the highest number of adult recipients of all of the lottery scholarships because there is no maximum age. Any Tennessee resident, regardless of age, can use this grant. Students can receive up to $2,000 a year toward tuition and educational fees. However, if one has been a past recipient of a HOPE scholarship or the Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant, one is not eligible for this award.
These funds are available to full or part-time students who keep a C average. Under some circumstances, students who complete their diploma from a Tennessee Technology Center can go onto college and receive the HOPE scholarship.
If you have been in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services for at least one year, you may qualify for the Tennessee Hope Foster Child Tuition Grant. If one meets HOPE scholarship qualifications, this grant will make up the difference in additional educational expenses not covered by the HOPE scholarship, including fees.
The Helping Heroes Grant is designed to reward veterans who served in certain locations by helping them with their college costs. If you are an honorably discharged military veteran or a member of a National Guard unit who was called to active duty, you may qualify for this grant. In order to receive it you must have earned an Iraq Campaign Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, on or after Sept. 11, 2001. If you receive this grant, you could receive up to $1,000 per semester to help pay for your college expenses.
Tennessee Lottery funds are also used to help high school students earn college credits. If you are a high school junior or senior seeking dual-enrollment, you could be eligible for the Dual Enrollment Grant. This grant could give you up to $300 per college course per semester, with the total per year not to exceed $1200. At the time of dual enrollment, the student must meet all HOPE scholarship eligibility requirements.
However, if you use this program for more than four courses during your junior and senior years, the amount of funding used will be deducted from your HOPE scholarship. This grant is also available to home-school students.
The Ned McWherter Scholars Program seeks to encourage high achieving students from the state of Tennessee to attend college within the state. This scholarship is for $3,000 a year, but the college is required to match that $3,000, totaling $6,000 per year. To receive this scholarship one must score a minimum of 29 on the ACT (1280 SAT) and carry a high school 3.5 GPA.
To keep the scholarship one must attain a 3.2 GPA and attend college full time. One can only renew this scholarship three times, for a total of four years. This scholarship is very competitive because of limited funding, with renewal applicants being given highest priority.
If your parent was a police officer, fireman, or emergency worker who was killed or disabled in the line of duty, the Dependent Children Scholarship Program can help you attend college. The awards vary, depending on funding, but no academic standards are established. Only full-time students can receive this scholarship. Along with the scholarship application, one must include documentation detailing the parent’s injury.
Christa McAuliffe was a Tennessee high school teacher, who lost her life on the space shuttle Challenger. In her memory, Tennessee legislators created the Christa McAuliffe Scholarship Program. This scholarship is focused on students pursuing a career in teaching. It is a one-time award of $500.
To receive this scholarship, a student must have at least completed the first semester of his junior year of college in a teacher education program. Students must have a GPA of 3.5 and an ACT score that meets or exceeds the national average.
The Minority Teaching Fellows Program is another scholarship focused on Tennessee residents seeking careers in teaching. This program is open to minority students who are high school seniors or college students. The high school students must carry a GPA of 2.75 with an ACT score of 18 or higher (860 SAT). College students must achieve a GPA of 2.75 and attend full-time.
Part of the application process includes writing an essay entitled “Why I Chose Teaching as a Profession.” One must include recommendations from a school official and community figure, as well as a list of extracurricular activities and a complete educational transcript.
People who accept this award must sign a promissory note declaring their intention to serve as a full-time teacher in a K-12 school for at least a year for each year they receive the award. If the student does not meet this obligation, they must repay the amount given.
The Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program is designed to promote the entrance of exceptional students into teaching fields within Tennessee. This is focused on college juniors, seniors, and those seeking post-baccalaureate degrees in teacher education programs.
Students must have a 2.75 GPA or higher in college, not already be a licensed teacher, and attend part-time for post-grad students, or full-time for under-grad students.
The application process includes a letter from a member of the faculty of the educational program in which he is enrolled, testifying to the student’s commitment to teaching and potential success as a teacher. Students who accept this award must sign a promissory note committing to teach full-time in a Tennessee PreK-12 school for one year per year they accepted the award. If the student does not keep this commitment, they must repay the money used for their education.
This foundation administers scholarship funds created by individuals or organizations. Many of these are designed to help students from specific counties, cities, or with particular interests. These scholarships vary in eligibility and amount rewarded. www.legacy.cfmt.org
Williamson County Residents:
Kathy D. and Stephen J. Anderson Scholarship
Lt. Holly Adams Memorial Scholarship
Cheatham County Residents:
Dody Boyd Scholarship
The Cheatham County Scholarship
Community Bank and Trust Scholarship
John E. Mayfield Scholarship for Cheatham County Central High School
John E. Mayfield Scholarship for Harpeth High School
John E. Mayfield Scholarship for Pleasant View Christian School
John E. Mayfield Scholarship for Sycamore High School
Giles County Residents:
William and Clara Bryan Scholarship
Barbara Hagan Richards Scholarship
Davidson County Residents:
Davidson County Democratic Women/Shannon Wood Scholarship
Edna Martin Scholarship
Choose Your Future Scholarship (Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools)
Rachel Allison Cate Scholarship (Metro Nashville Public School)
Jerry Newson Scholarship
Woman’s Club of Nashville Scholarship
Smith County Residents:
Pauline LaFon Gore Scholarship
Cumberland County Residents:
Maude Keisling/Cumberland County Extension Homemakers Scholarship
Robertson County Residents:
Eunice Lou Gower McHugh Scholarship
Rutherford County Residents:
Ken Shipp Scholarship
Montgomery County Residents:
Catie Summers Memorial Scholarship (Clarksville Montgomery County Public Schools)
This scholarship collection also provides scholarships for students whose parents are members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, employees of Ingram Entertainment, DBI Distributing, Dollar General, Genesco or Tractor Supply Company.
This foundation also offers scholarships for students from the following high schools and school districts: Benton Hall School, Oak Ridge Public Schools, East High School, Brentwood Academy, Hume-Fogg High School, Metro-Nashville Public Schools, Gallatin High School, Station Camp High School, Cumberland Gap High School, Donelson High School, Cheatham County Central High School, or Page High School.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee Scholarship Program administers funds for students going to a variety of colleges with many different interests. Whatever your intended major or interests, it is worth your time to look through the listings to see if you could apply for one of the scholarships.
These funds are not intended to fully fund anyone’s college education. They are typically smaller amounts, from $500-2500. You can, however, apply for and receive as many scholarships as you are qualified to receive. Unless otherwise noted, these scholarships can help pay for your education at any accredited college in the United States. The deadline for application is March 15.
The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis is another charitable group that administers scholarships. This fund has fourteen scholarships available to qualified applicants choosing to attend eligible two and four year colleges. Graduates from a variety of Memphis area high schools with diverse interests can apply for and receive these scholarships. The amount of these awards range from $500-2500 dollars.
Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga administers an array of scholarships for students from the city of Chattanooga or the surrounding area. Most of these scholarships require you to be a high school senior at a Hamilton County high school. Many of them have no academic requirements.
This scholarship provides $500 per semester to Tennessee residents attending Tennessee colleges. These funds can be rewarded to high school students, high school seniors, or college students who are planning to enter college full-time within one year of the scholarship application date. This scholarship can be applied to the costs of college tuition, fees, room and board, books and materials.
To be eligible for the Stegall Charitable Educational Foundation Scholarship, college freshmen must have a 2.8 high school GPA, and an 18 on the ACT. College upper-classmen must have a 3.0 GPA in their college classes. The student must demonstrate their financial need for the scholarship and have unrestricted academic status.
These scholarships are for high school seniors and college students of the Middle Tennessee area interested in studying business. To receive it, you must demonstrate your interest in the field of business by starting your own business, joining a professional business society, or working in other companies.
The Bird Dog Foundation has an annual essay contest to promote interest in conservation and wildlife. This contest is open to high school seniors living in Tennessee, Mississippi, or Arkansas. One need not know anything about bird dogs to get this scholarship. The web-site has a suggested list of essay topics to get you started. Most of these topics are related to ecology, forestry, and conservation. The instructions for the essay are quite specific, requiring particular formatting and a bibliography.
The scholarship amount is $1500 for a first place winner and $2000 for a second place winner. This is only a one-year award.
The Nashville CABLE Organization is a women’s professional organization created to help women reach their full potential. They have created the Athena Scholarship to help women living in Davidson or adjacent counties with college expenses.
This group offers four different scholarships. The first is offered to female high school seniors graduating from public or private schools. Three scholarships are offered each year: one $5,000 scholarship, and two $2500 scholarships.
The second scholarship is for female non-traditional students. This award is focused on working women going back to college later in life. To apply for this scholarship, one must have been out of high school for five or more years and be returning to school for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Two scholarships are offered per year: one in the amount of $5,000 and another for $2500.
The third scholarship is for currently working, non-traditional, female students who are returning to school to study science, engineering, research or technology. These students must have been out of high school for at least five years. One scholarship is offered per year in the amount of $3,000.
The fourth scholarship is for currently working, female, non-traditional students pursuing a degree in a health-care-related field. These students must have been out of high school for at least five years. One scholarship is offered per year in the amount of $3,000.
To win one of these scholarships, one must submit the following documents along with an application by November 14: an essay on the required topic, two letters of reference, a high school or college transcript, and a letter from the college showing intent to attend.
Tennessee Educators Association created this for future teachers and the children of teachers. These awards vary in amount from $500-$1000. Eight different scholarships are awarded each year, focused on different types of applicants. One of these scholarships is for graduate work and another is specifically for minority students. The application deadline is March 1.
The Tennessee Grocers Council offers scholarships to Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association employees and their children to help with their college expense. These scholarships are available to high school seniors, current college students or graduate students. Applications are available from December through February. The scholarship committee considers grades, extra curricular activities, recommendations, and student employment when awarding this scholarship.
The Tennessee Labor-Management Foundation Scholarship is designed to foster employment in the human relations and labor management field. This scholarship can be up to $3,000 per year. It is offered to college students who have completed their first two years of schooling. An important part of this scholarship is the essay answering the question “What collaborative roles can government, academia, labor organizations, and companies play in the creation of jobs in an economic recovery?”
The Nashville Predators Foundation awards this scholarship to four high school seniors from the Middle Tennessee area each year. Each recipient receives a scholarship for $2500. A teacher or coach must nominate these students to win this award. These students must have a GPA of 3.0, and display leadership qualities in school and at athletic events. The applicant must submit an essay describing why they are deserving of this award.
The state of Tennessee offers many opportunities for college scholarships. It takes only a little time to fill out the applications, but doing so could save you a lot of money! Do not allow financial hardship to limit your dreams. These scholarships can help you achieve your goals.