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2021 Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in Tennessee

36 Colleges
$21,586 Avg Cost (With Aid)*
4.4 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

Trying to decide what college is best for you is no easy matter. College Factual has developed its Best Tennessee Schools For The Money For Those Getting Aid ranking as one tool you can use to help make this decision.

Our analysis looked at 36 schools to determine which ones were the best for overall value for the money with aid in Tennessee. Quality is an important component in this ranking, so it is not just naming the schools with the cheapest price tag. Instead, it is identifying those institutions that offer the most value when taking their educational quality into consideration. So it is possible that College A may rank better than College B, while College B is less expensive to attend.

Find out more about our ranking methodology.

Our average cost calculation adds up all expenses, such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses, and then subtracts the average financial aid awarded to a student. This gives a rough estimation of how much money you can expect to pay out-of-pocket or through loans each year.

Custom Rankings

We've developed a number of other tools and rankings to help you make your college decision. Start by filtering this list by location or field of study and then explore our other rankings that feature schools great for different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

We've created a tool called College Combat that lets you create your own customized comparisons based on the factors that matter the most to you. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in Tennessee

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

Our analysis found Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences to be the best school for overall value for the money with aid in Tennessee in this year’s ranking. Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences is a small private not-for-profit school located in Memphis, Tennessee that handed out 235 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Baptist College of Health Sciences is 4.4 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $15,108 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Baptist College of Health Sciences is $67,080. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.3%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

Full Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Report

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Out of the 36 schools in Tennessee that were part of this year’s ranking, The University of Tennessee - Knoxville landed the #2 spot on the list. Knoxville, Tennessee is the setting for this large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 5,103 students in 2018-2019.

At UT Knoxville, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $22,546. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UT Knoxville be around $98,751. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. UT Knoxville not only placed well in our value rankings, but it is also #4 on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list.

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Out of the 36 schools in Tennessee that were part of this year’s ranking, The University of Tennessee - Martin landed the #3 spot on the list. UT Martin is a medium-sized public school situated in Martin, Tennessee. It awarded 1,176 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At UT Martin, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $13,881. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UT Martin is $62,603. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#3

Union University

Jackson, Tennessee

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend Union University. The school came in at #3 in Tennessee on this year’s best value ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Jackson, Tennessee, and it awarded 533 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Union U is 4.1 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $23,968 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Union U be around $98,029. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Union U excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list.

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#5

Middle Tennessee State University

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Middle Tennessee State University helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Tennessee. Middle Tennessee State University is located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 4,078 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Middle Tennessee State University is 4.6 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $15,320 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $70,778 to get a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#6

East Tennessee State University

Johnson City, Tennessee

With a ranking of #6, East Tennessee State University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. This fairly large public school is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and it awarded 2,480 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at ETSU is 4.6 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $14,303 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $65,794 to get a bachelor’s degree from ETSU. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#7

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University ranked #7 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, Tennessee and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 2,280 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At Vanderbilt, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.0 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $31,704 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $128,401 to get a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The low student loan default rate of 1.5% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. Vanderbilt not only placed well in our value rankings, but it is also #1 on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list.

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#8

Tennessee Technological University

Cookeville, Tennessee

Tennessee Technological University landed the #8 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Cookeville, Tennessee is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,248 students in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Tennessee Tech University is 4.6 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $18,311. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Tech University is $83,498. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#9

Freed - Hardeman University

Henderson, Tennessee

With a ranking of #9, Freed - Hardeman University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Freed - Hardeman is located in Henderson, Tennessee and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 308 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At Freed - Hardeman, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $21,207 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Freed - Hardeman is $88,645. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#10

The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tennessee

The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga ranked #10 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the fairly large public school handed out 2,082 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UT Chattanooga about 4.5 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $16,847 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the UT Chattanooga is $76,148. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#11

Lincoln Memorial University

Harrogate, Tennessee

Lincoln Memorial University ranked #11 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Harrogate, Tennessee, and it awarded 315 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at LMU is 4.1 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $21,771. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the LMU is $88,826. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 3.4% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#12

Milligan College

Milligan College, Tennessee

Milligan College came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Milligan College, Tennessee, and it awarded 225 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Milligan, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $25,070 per year to attend the school. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Milligan is $103,288. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, Milligan also did well on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#13

Johnson University

Knoxville, Tennessee

Johnson University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #13. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 350 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Johnson University about 4.2 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $19,729. This means that the average student pays around $83,848 to get a bachelor’s degree from Johnson University. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

With a student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1, it’s easy to see that the school is committed to helping their undergraduates succeed.

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#14

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

Rhodes College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #14. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 561 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

At Rhodes College, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.0 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $35,699 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College is $144,581. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 91%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Rhodes College did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #2 on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list.

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#15

University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

University of Memphis came in at #15 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee ranking. This large public school is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and it awarded 3,088 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At U of Memphis, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.7 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $18,863 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from U of Memphis is $88,279. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#16

Christian Brothers University

Memphis, Tennessee

Christian Brothers University came in at #16 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee ranking. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 363 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Christian Brothers is 4.5 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $20,494 for students who receive aid. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Christian Brothers is about $92,428. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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Sewanee - The University of the South landed the #17 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Sewanee is located in Sewanee, Tennessee and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 432 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Sewanee is 4.1 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $37,673. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Sewanee be around $153,706. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 88%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, Sewanee is ranked #3 for overall quality in Tennessee.

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#18

Lipscomb University

Nashville, Tennessee

Lipscomb University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #18. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and it awarded 774 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at Lipscomb to complete their degree, and it costs students who receive aid about $31,707 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $133,169 to get a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, Lipscomb also is in the top 20% of our Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking.

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#19

Fisk University

Nashville, Tennessee

Fisk University ranked #19 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Nashville, Tennessee is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 91 students in 2018-2019.

At Fisk, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $19,553 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Fisk be around $81,927. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#20

Maryville College

Maryville, Tennessee

Maryville College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #20. Maryville College is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Maryville, Tennessee. It awarded 266 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at Maryville College to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $21,937. This means that the average student pays around $91,916 to get a bachelor’s degree from Maryville College. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#21

Le Moyne - Owen College

Memphis, Tennessee

Le Moyne - Owen College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #21. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and it awarded 137 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Le Moyne - Owen College is 5.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $10,131 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne - Owen College is $51,668. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#22

Lee University

Cleveland, Tennessee

Lee University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #22. Located in Cleveland, Tennessee, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school handed out 848 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Lee University graduates in less than 4.3 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $22,599 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Lee University is $97,628. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#23

Bryan College - Dayton

Dayton, Tennessee

Bryan College - Dayton ranked #23 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Dayton, Tennessee, and it awarded 215 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at William Jennings Bryan College to complete their degree, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $22,651 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from William Jennings Bryan College is $94,681. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.0%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#24

Tennessee Wesleyan University

Athens, Tennessee

With a ranking of #24, Tennessee Wesleyan University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. TWU is a private not-for-profit institution located in Athens, Tennessee. The school has a small population, and it awarded 288 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at TWU is 4.4 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $19,081. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from TWU is $84,720. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#25

Austin Peay State University

Clarksville, Tennessee

Austin Peay State University came in at #25 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee ranking. This fairly large public school is located in Clarksville, Tennessee, and it awarded 1,517 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Austin Peay State University, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $19,486 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $87,687 to get a bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • For our state-specific rankings, we use in-state tuition to calculate average cost. For our national and regional rankings, we use a weighted average of in-state and non-resident tuition.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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