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2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee

36 Colleges
$23,704 Avg Cost*
4.4 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

It's not easy to decide which college to attend when you have so many options available. At College Factual, we're committed to helping you make that decision by providing information such as that found in our Best Value Tennessee Schools ranking.

We analyzed 36 colleges and universities to determine which were the best for overall value 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. Because of this, it is possible for one college to rank better than another, even if the latter college has a lower average cost.

Find out more about our ranking methodology.

When determining average cost, we look at total expenses, such as tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other living expenses, and then deduct the average amount of financial aid awarded to a student. This estimate is meant to give you a better picture of how much money you'll have to pay each year, either through self-pay, loans, or external scholarships.

One Size Does Not Fit All

We know that one set of rankings doesn't always help you determine the best school for you, so we've created the ability to narrow your list by location and field of study as well as alternative rankings that prioritize different factors, such as those of importance to veterans and returning adults or those seeking diversity and overall quality.

One of our other unique offerings is College Combat. This tool lets you build your own customized comparisons utilizing the factors that are most important to you. If you're torn between two schools, you can use it to help you see how they stack up against one another!

Top Colleges for the Money in Tennessee

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

Our 2021 rankings named Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences the best school for overall value in Tennessee for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 235 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 Baptist College of Health Sciences is 4.4 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $16,628. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Baptist College of Health Sciences be around $73,828. 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 4.3%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at The University of Tennessee - Knoxville helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Tennessee. UT Knoxville is located in Knoxville, Tennessee and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 5,103 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.4 years for the average student at UT Knoxville to complete their degree, and it costs about $25,007 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 UT Knoxville is $109,531. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 4.7% 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%. UT Knoxville also made our Best Colleges in Tennessee list, coming in at #4.

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A rank of #3 on our Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list means The University of Tennessee - Martin is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. The University of Tennessee - Martin is a medium-sized public school located in Martin, Tennessee that handed out 1,176 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at UT Martin is 4.5 years, and it costs about $14,978 per year to attend the school. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the UT Martin is $67,551. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#4

Freed - Hardeman University

Henderson, Tennessee

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend Freed - Hardeman University. The school came in at #4 in Tennessee on this year’s best value ranking. Freed - Hardeman is a private not-for-profit institution located in Henderson, Tennessee. The school has a small population, and it awarded 308 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Freed - Hardeman about 4.2 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $21,944. 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 $91,726. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#5

Tennessee Technological University

Cookeville, Tennessee

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Tennessee Technological University. It ranked #5 on our 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee list. Tennessee Tech University is a fairly large public school situated in Cookeville, Tennessee. It awarded 2,248 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Tennessee Tech University about 4.6 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $19,936. 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 Tennessee Tech University is $90,908. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#6

Middle Tennessee State University

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Middle Tennessee State University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #6. Middle Tennessee State University is a public institution located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The school has a large population, and it awarded 4,078 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Middle Tennessee State University about 4.6 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $17,288. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University is about $79,871. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#7

East Tennessee State University

Johnson City, Tennessee

East Tennessee State University landed the #7 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking. 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 yearly average cost to attend the school is $16,472. 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 ETSU is $75,771. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#8

Lincoln Memorial University

Harrogate, Tennessee

With a ranking of #8, Lincoln Memorial University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Harrogate, Tennessee is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 315 students in 2018-2019.

At LMU, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $23,058. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from LMU is $94,077. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.4%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#9

Union University

Jackson, Tennessee

Union University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #9. Union U is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Jackson, Tennessee. 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 about $29,480 per year to attend the school. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Union U is $120,573. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

With a freshman retention rate of 86%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. On top of its placing in our value rankings, Union U also did well on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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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. Chattanooga, Tennessee is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,082 students in 2018-2019.

The average student at UT Chattanooga graduates in less than 4.5 years, and it costs about $18,942 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UT Chattanooga be around $85,618. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#11

Johnson University

Knoxville, Tennessee

Johnson University ranked #11 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 350 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

At Johnson University, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $20,660. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Johnson University is about $87,805. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1 is a sign that students will have more opportunities to engage with their professors one-on-one.

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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. Milligan College, Tennessee is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 225 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Milligan about 4.1 years to graduate, and it costs about $27,056 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 $111,471. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1 is a sign that students will have more opportunities to engage with their professors one-on-one. Milligan excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 20% of all schools on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list.

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#13

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

Rhodes College landed the #13 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 561 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.0 years for the average student at Rhodes College to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $38,009. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College is about $153,936. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The low student loan default rate of 3.3% 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%. Rhodes College also made our Best Colleges in Tennessee list, coming in at #2.

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#14

Maryville College

Maryville, Tennessee

Maryville College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #14. Maryville College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Maryville, Tennessee that handed out 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 yearly average cost to attend the school is $21,937. 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 Maryville College is $91,916. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#15

University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

University of Memphis landed the #15 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking. U of Memphis is a public institution located in Memphis, Tennessee. The school has a large population, and it awarded 3,088 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.7 years for the average student at U of Memphis to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $20,518. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from U of Memphis is about $96,024. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#16

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University ranked #16 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the fairly large private not-for-profit school handed out 2,280 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Vanderbilt about 4.0 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $45,381. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Vanderbilt is $183,793. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 97%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Vanderbilt did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #1 on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list.

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With a ranking of #17, Sewanee - The University of the South did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Located in Sewanee, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 432 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 Sewanee is 4.1 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $40,741. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Sewanee is $166,223. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

With a freshman retention rate of 88%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. Sewanee also took the #3 spot in our Best Colleges in Tennessee rankings.

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#18

Fisk University

Nashville, Tennessee

Fisk University landed the #18 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Fisk is located in Nashville, Tennessee and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 91 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at Fisk about 4.2 years to graduate, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $21,577. 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 Fisk is $90,408. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#19

Lipscomb University

Nashville, Tennessee

Lipscomb University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #19. Nashville, Tennessee is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 774 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Lipscomb about 4.2 years to graduate, and it costs about $35,854 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 Lipscomb is $150,587. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The low student loan default rate of 2.7% 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%. 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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#20

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 #20. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and it awarded 137 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 5.1 years for the average student at Le Moyne - Owen College to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $11,506. 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 $58,681. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#21

Tennessee Wesleyan University

Athens, Tennessee

Tennessee Wesleyan University ranked #21 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. TWU is located in Athens, Tennessee and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 288 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at TWU about 4.4 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $19,261. This means that the average student pays around $85,519 to get a bachelor’s degree from TWU. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#22

Christian Brothers University

Memphis, Tennessee

With a ranking of #22, Christian Brothers University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 363 bachelor’s degrees 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 the yearly average cost to attend the school is $25,056. 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 Christian Brothers is $113,003. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#23

Lee University

Cleveland, Tennessee

Lee University came in at #23 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee ranking. This medium-sized private not-for-profit school is located in Cleveland, Tennessee, and it awarded 848 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Lee University about 4.3 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $25,074. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Lee University is about $108,320. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#24

Austin Peay State University

Clarksville, Tennessee

Austin Peay State University ranked #24 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Tennessee list. Located in Clarksville, Tennessee, the fairly large public school awarded 1,517 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

At Austin Peay State University, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $20,473. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University is about $92,128. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#25

Lane College

Jackson, Tennessee

Lane College came in at #25 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 Jackson, Tennessee, and it awarded 176 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Lane College about 4.7 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $15,769. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Lane College be around $74,587. 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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