For more detailed information on state financial aid programs contact:

Tennessee Higher Education Commission
Parkway Towers
Suite 1900
James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243

Tennessee Student Assistance Commission (TSAC)
404 James Robertson Parkway
Suite 1950, Parkway Towers
Nashville, TN 37243-0820
Local (615) 741-1346
In State for Grant Information 800-342-1663
In State for Loan Information 800-447-1523
Out of State for Loan Information 800-257-6526
FAX (615) 741-6101

The following are financial aid programs available to students who are residents of the state of Tennessee.


Tennessee Student Assistance Awards

The Tennessee Student Assistance Award Program was established by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1976. The purpose of the program is to provide non-repayable financial assistance to financially needy undergraduate students who are residents of Tennessee and are enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, at a public or an eligible non-public post secondary educational institution in Tennessee.

Maximum award amounts are determined by the TSAC Board of Directors prior to the beginning of the Fall term. No student will receive an award greater than the amount of tuition and mandatory fees assessed by the institution attended.

A student's eligibility is determined in the same manner as is eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant. Students must have their Free Application For Federal Student Aid  (FAFSA) processed by the federal processor by May 1.


Ned McWherter Scholars Program

The Ned McWherter Scholars Program is intended to encourage academically superior Tennessee high school graduates to attend college in Tennessee. Recent Tennessee high school graduates and those starting their last semester in high school who have at least a 3.5 cumulative grade point average and an ACT or SAT score in the top 5% nationally and who are Tennessee residents (and whose parents are also Tennessee residents) are eligible to apply.

The award is for up to $6,000 per academic year. One-Half of the award is from the State and must be matched on a 1:1 basis by the college or university attended. Awards are made in equal installments each term throughout the academic year. Applications are available at high school guidance offices and TSAC. Awards are very competitive and are based on funding. The deadline is February 15.


Christa McAuliffe Scholarship Program

The Tennessee General Assembly created a scholarship program to honor the memory of Christa McAuliffe. The scholarship program was established to encourage promising Tennesseans who have a commitment to teaching and inspiring young minds to explore and achieve their highest potential. The scholarship is intended to assist and support Tennessee students who have demonstrated a commitment to a career in educating the youth of Tennessee.

The scholarship is offered to college seniors for a period of one academic year. The amount of the award offered is paid toward the cost required for tuition, fees, equipment, textbooks, and supplies, and if applicable, the cost of room and board at the institution, for a maximum annual amount of $1,000. Applications are available from TSAC. The application deadline is April 1.


Dependent Children Scholarship Program

The Dependent Children Scholarship Program provides aid for Tennessee residents who are dependent children of a Tennessee law enforcement officer, fireman, or an emergency medical service technician who has been killed or totally and permanently disabled while performing duties within the scope of such employment. The scholarship may be awarded to full-time undergraduate students for a maximum of four academic years or the period required for the completion of the program of study.

Applicant must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Contact TSAC for application information. The application deadline is July 15.


Minority Teaching Fellows Program

The Tennessee General Assembly established the Minority Teaching Fellows Program in 1989 to attract talented minority Tennesseans to enter the teaching field. The award is for $5,000 per year to pursue a teacher certification. Those who receive the award incur an obligation to teach at some K-12 level in a Tennessee public school one year for each year the award is received.

To be eligible to apply, the applicant must be a minority Tennessee resident, a citizen of the United States, and a high school senior or a continuing college student.

To be considered, high school seniors must have achieved at least a 2.75 high school cumulative grade point average, and either have scored a minimum composite score of 18 on the ACT (or its SAT equivalent) or have been in the top 25% of his/her high school graduation class. Continuing college students must have achieved at least a 2.5 college cumulative grade point average.

Applications are available at high school guidance offices, financial aid offices, and TSAC. The deadline is April 15.


Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program

Tennessee residents who meet citizenship requirements and who will be graduating from high school in the senior year, or received a GED, are eligible for this federally funded scholarship, whether or not they attended high school in Tennessee. Recipients of these federally funded awards must have a 3.5 GPA, 57 GED or a 3.0 GPA and a score of 24 on the ACT. Recipients are identified from among qualified applicants utilizing a scientifically based stratified random selection procedure.

Applications are available at high school guidance offices and TSAC. The deadline is March 1.


Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program

This program is designed to encourage exemplary students to enter the teaching field. Participation is limited to college juniors, seniors, and post baccalaureate candidates admitted to a teacher education program in Tennessee. Participants in this program incur an obligation to teach one year in a Tennessee public school for each year an award is received.

To be considered, applicants must have at least a 2.75 cumulative grade point average and be admitted to the department of education at their post secondary institution.

Applications are available at financial aid offices and TSAC. Awards are very competitive and are based on funding. The deadline is April 15.


Tennessee BEST Savings Program

Get the BEST in Education for Your Children

A college education is one of the best ways to help your child enjoy a fulfilling and successful future. But with costs of attending college rising considerably faster than the overall rate of inflation, saving enough to pay for it can seem almost overwhelming - especially for families with more than one college-bound child.

However, funding a college education, just like any major financial goal is something you can work to achieve with commitment and the right kind of plan.

In the State of Tennessee, you now have two ways to save for college through Tennessee's BEST program - a Prepaid Plan, and the Savings Plan.

The Savings Plan is available to anyone, regardless of whether he or she is a resident of Tennessee, and an Account can be opened any time during the year. There is no set enrollment period. Participants in the Savings Plan invest in portfolios whose investment mix is based on the age of the beneficiary, and that beneficiary's investment time horizon.

Earnings in your BEST Savings Plan Account grow free from federal income tax. And, withdrawals made for qualified higher education expenses will be free from federal* income tax, giving you more money in your account than the same investments in a taxable account. What's more, because the plan is open to nonresidents of the State, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other friends around the country can open or contribute to an Account for a child.

With the BEST Savings Plan, you can save for future college costs at any eligible institution in the country -- and save on taxes, too. Here's how it works: You, the purchaser, open a college savings Account with the Plan on behalf of a child, the beneficiary. The Investment earnings on the money that you contribute to the Account grow free from federal income tax. Then, when your child is ready to go to college, withdrawals from your Account to pay for qualified higher education expenses at eligible schools in Tennessee or anywhere in the country will be federal* income tax-free.

Other Reasons Why You Should Take Advantage of The BEST Savings Plan

In addition to the tax benefits, the Savings Plan offers you:

Choice of investment options — The Plan offers you two investment options. The Managed Allocation Option and the 100% Equity Option. These choices vary in their investment strategy and degree of risk, allowing you to select an option or combination of options that best fit your needs and investment philosophy. Read the Plan Disclosure Booklet and Supplements for additional information.

Low minimum contribution — If you need to start small, it's easy to do with the Savings Plan. You can open an account with just $25 by check, through electronic funds transfer (EFT), or an automatic contribution plan. If your employer offers a payroll deduction feature, you can get started with just $15 per account per pay period.

Professional money management — TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI) provides investment management, marketing and overall administration for the Plan. TFI, the acknowledged leader in providing program management for 529 savings plans, manages several other state 529 programs.

TFI is a part of TIAA-CREF, a financial services organization with over 2 million participants and more than $260 billion in assets under management. For over 80 years, TIAA-CREF has been providing investment management solutions for the education and research communities. The company has gained a reputation for low fees, innovative products, solid investment performance, trustworthiness and superior customer service.

Flexibility — The money in the Account can be used to pay for college costs -- tuition as well as related expenses such as mandatory fees, books and certain room and board expenses -- at any eligible institution of higher education in the country, including trade, vocational, technical and graduate schools, even some schools abroad.

Low cost — There is an annual asset-based management fee paid to TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. to cover the cost of investment management and administrative services. This fee is at a rate of only 0.95% of the Plan's average daily net asset value.

More information is available on the web at:

State Financial Aid Information

Find state financial aid information for the specific state that you live in. Find contact information for your local federal aid office, and get details about specific federal aid programs in your area.