Best Value Colleges in Tennessee

Seeking out the best value colleges in Tennessee? Take a look at the colleges with the best return on investment in the state.

From the soaring peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains to the incredible musical traditions of Nashville, the Volunteer State is a fun and interesting place to attend school.  Read More

Find Out Exactly What You
Should Be Paid


1Vanderbilt University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$542,000
Total 4 Year Cost$242,000
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,600
2Tennessee Technological University (TTU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$457,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,900
Grad Rate49%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$18,900
3Tennessee Technological University (TTU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$399,000
Total 4 Year Cost$147,000
Grad Rate49%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$18,900
4University of Tennessee(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$309,000
Total 4 Year Cost$105,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,000
5University of Tennessee(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$236,000
Total 4 Year Cost$178,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,000
6Austin Peay State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$218,000
Total 4 Year Cost$85,600
Grad Rate37%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,400
7University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$213,000
Total 4 Year Cost$81,900
Grad Rate40%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,100
8University of Memphis (U of M)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$212,000
Total 4 Year Cost$92,400
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,300
9Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$186,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,500
Grad Rate46%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,900
10Austin Peay State University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$162,000
Total 4 Year Cost$142,000
Grad Rate37%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,400
11East Tennessee State University (ETSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$161,000
Total 4 Year Cost$93,200
Grad Rate43%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,700
12University of Memphis (U of M)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$156,000
Total 4 Year Cost$148,000
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,300
13University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$154,000
Total 4 Year Cost$141,000
Grad Rate40%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,100
14Tennessee State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$143,000
Total 4 Year Cost$70,800
Grad Rate42%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,600
15Lipscomb University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$136,000
Total 4 Year Cost$158,000
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,600

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

Whether you're hoping to attend college in Tennessee because of the state's eclectic array of attractions or simply because it's home to so many great value schools, consider using PayScale's data to more capably research the universities that will give you the greatest return on investment for your educational dollars.

As one of the most highly ranked research institutions in the nation, Vanderbilt University attracts some of the most talented and driven students from around the state, country and world. Ranked 98th nationally in terms of 20 Year Net ROI, the school tops our Tennessee College ROI rankings. An education from this prestigious school costs an average of $242,000, and alumni report a median return on investment of $542,000 without financial aid and $699,000 with it. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, Vandy, as it's affectionately known, has graduated a veritable who's who of prestigious public figures, including two U.S. Vice Presidents, 25 Rhodes Scholars, seven Nobel Prize laureates and several Fields Medal recipients.

Better known as Tennessee Tech, Tennessee Technological University is ranked 175th nationally in terms of 20 Year Net ROI. Located in Cookeville, which is about 70 miles east of Nashville, the school's undergraduate offerings largely revolve around engineering and technology, but other disciplines are offered, too. The school is famous for offering a solid array of degrees in the STEM field, which largely explains why its 20 Year Net ROI is $457,000 -- a figure that rises to $488,000 with financial aid. Tennessee Tech delivers a college return on investment Tennessee residents benefit from enormously.

Home to the official collections of papers of all three Tennessee-born U.S. presidents, the University of Tennessee has long been a highly regarded institute of higher learning. The average cost of an education from this Knoxville-based school is $105,000. UTK alumni report a median return of investment of $309,000 for in-state graduates without financial aid and $343,000 with it. With more than 300 degree programs, the school appeals to a broad range of students while delivering the value of college education Tennessee families need. More than 450 student-run organizations and clubs are available, so there's never a dull moment on campus.