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. 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.

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Rank
School Name
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
20 Year Net ROI
 
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
Total 4 Year Cost
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Total 4 Year Cost
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Graduation Rate
% of full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students who began their studies at the given school and graduate within 6 years. Source: IPEDS
Typical Years to Graduate
# of years it takes for at least 65 percent of graduates from a given school to receive their diplomas. Source: IPEDS
Average Loan Amount
Received by full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students, multiplied to represent amount over four years. Includes all Title IV loans and all institutionally- and privately-sponsored student loans. Source: IPEDS
% Grant Money Received
% of full-time, first-time undergrads who received local, state, federal, or institutional grant aid in the 2012-2013 academic year. Source: IPEDS
15.6%N/A11.2%N/A$496,000N/A$658,000N/A$252,000N/A92%4$31,60014%
1Vanderbilt University(Private)
Annual ROI5.6%
Annual ROIN/A
Annual ROI11.2%
Annual ROIN/A
20 Year Net ROI$496,000
20 Year Net ROIN/A
20 Year Net ROI$658,000
20 Year Net ROIN/A
Total 4 Year Cost$252,000
Total 4 Year CostN/A
Grad Rate92%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$31,600
Grant Money Received14%
29.1%8.5%12.7%11.7%$413,000$404,000$457,000$447,000$88,700$98,00072%4$21,80052%
2Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences(Private)
Annual ROI9.1%
Annual ROI8.5%
Annual ROI12.7%
Annual ROI11.7%
20 Year Net ROI$413,000
20 Year Net ROI$404,000
20 Year Net ROI$457,000
20 Year Net ROI$447,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,700
Total 4 Year Cost$98,000
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$21,800
Grant Money Received52%
38.2%8.2%10.7%10.7%$369,000$369,000$405,000$405,000$96,900$96,90051%5$20,60037%
3Tennessee Technological University(In-State)
Annual ROI8.2%
Annual ROI8.2%
Annual ROI10.7%
Annual ROI10.7%
20 Year Net ROI$369,000
20 Year Net ROI$369,000
20 Year Net ROI$405,000
20 Year Net ROI$405,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,900
Total 4 Year Cost$96,900
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$20,600
Grant Money Received37%
45.6%5.6%6.9%6.9%$308,000$308,000$344,000$344,000$158,000$158,00051%5$20,60037%
4Tennessee Technological University(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI5.6%
Annual ROI5.6%
Annual ROI6.9%
Annual ROI6.9%
20 Year Net ROI$308,000
20 Year Net ROI$308,000
20 Year Net ROI$344,000
20 Year Net ROI$344,000
Total 4 Year Cost$158,000
Total 4 Year Cost$158,000
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$20,600
Grant Money Received37%
55.9%5.9%8.2%8.3%$301,000$302,000$350,000$351,000$140,000$139,00021%4$25,10031%
5Aquinas College (Tennessee)(Private)
Annual ROI5.9%
Annual ROI5.9%
Annual ROI8.2%
Annual ROI8.3%
20 Year Net ROI$301,000
20 Year Net ROI$302,000
20 Year Net ROI$350,000
20 Year Net ROI$351,000
Total 4 Year Cost$140,000
Total 4 Year Cost$139,000
Grad Rate21%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$25,100
Grant Money Received31%
66.3%6.3%8.2%8.2%$278,000$278,000$313,000$313,000$117,000$117,00069%5$27,60028%
6The University of Tennessee-Knoxville(In-State)
Annual ROI6.3%
Annual ROI6.3%
Annual ROI8.2%
Annual ROI8.2%
20 Year Net ROI$278,000
20 Year Net ROI$278,000
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
Total 4 Year Cost$117,000
Total 4 Year Cost$117,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$27,600
Grant Money Received28%
74.9%4.9%9.4%9.4%$262,000$261,000$354,000$354,000$163,000$163,00051%5$24,20037%
7Christian Brothers University(Private)
Annual ROI4.9%
Annual ROI4.9%
Annual ROI9.4%
Annual ROI9.4%
20 Year Net ROI$262,000
20 Year Net ROI$261,000
20 Year Net ROI$354,000
20 Year Net ROI$354,000
Total 4 Year Cost$163,000
Total 4 Year Cost$163,000
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$24,200
Grant Money Received37%
86.4%6.4%8.9%8.9%$237,000$237,000$272,000$272,000$95,800$95,80042%5$21,70049%
8University of Memphis(In-State)
Annual ROI6.4%
Annual ROI6.4%
Annual ROI8.9%
Annual ROI8.9%
20 Year Net ROI$237,000
20 Year Net ROI$237,000
20 Year Net ROI$272,000
20 Year Net ROI$272,000
Total 4 Year Cost$95,800
Total 4 Year Cost$95,800
Grad Rate42%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$21,700
Grant Money Received49%
97.1%7.1%10.6%10.5%$226,000$226,000$263,000$262,000$76,400$77,40034%5$27,40070%
9Tennessee State University(In-State)
Annual ROI7.1%
Annual ROI7.1%
Annual ROI10.6%
Annual ROI10.5%
20 Year Net ROI$226,000
20 Year Net ROI$226,000
20 Year Net ROI$263,000
20 Year Net ROI$262,000
Total 4 Year Cost$76,400
Total 4 Year Cost$77,400
Grad Rate34%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$27,400
Grant Money Received70%
104.2%4.3%7.2%7.5%$220,000$225,000$295,000$300,000$173,000$168,00058%4$27,10022%
10Lipscomb University(Private)
Annual ROI4.2%
Annual ROI4.3%
Annual ROI7.2%
Annual ROI7.5%
20 Year Net ROI$220,000
20 Year Net ROI$225,000
20 Year Net ROI$295,000
20 Year Net ROI$300,000
Total 4 Year Cost$173,000
Total 4 Year Cost$168,000
Grad Rate58%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$27,100
Grant Money Received22%
113.7%3.7%4.8%4.8%$204,000$204,000$239,000$239,000$191,000$191,00069%5$27,60028%
11The University of Tennessee-Knoxville(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI3.7%
Annual ROI3.7%
Annual ROI4.8%
Annual ROI4.8%
20 Year Net ROI$204,000
20 Year Net ROI$204,000
20 Year Net ROI$239,000
20 Year Net ROI$239,000
Total 4 Year Cost$191,000
Total 4 Year Cost$191,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$27,600
Grant Money Received28%
124.9%4.5%6.8%6.3%$201,000$193,000$240,000$232,000$127,000$135,00061%6$30,80033%
12Southern Adventist University(Private)
Annual ROI4.9%
Annual ROI4.5%
Annual ROI6.8%
Annual ROI6.3%
20 Year Net ROI$201,000
20 Year Net ROI$193,000
20 Year Net ROI$240,000
20 Year Net ROI$232,000
Total 4 Year Cost$127,000
Total 4 Year Cost$135,000
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate6
Loan Amt$30,800
Grant Money Received33%
134.3%3.6%7.5%6.3%$190,000$170,000$255,000$236,000$144,000$164,00049%4$27,30035%
13Trevecca Nazarene University(Private)
Annual ROI4.3%
Annual ROI3.6%
Annual ROI7.5%
Annual ROI6.3%
20 Year Net ROI$190,000
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
20 Year Net ROI$255,000
20 Year Net ROI$236,000
Total 4 Year Cost$144,000
Total 4 Year Cost$164,000
Grad Rate49%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$27,300
Grant Money Received35%
145.9%5.9%8.0%8.0%$189,000$189,000$217,000$217,000$87,400$87,40044%5$12,20031%
14The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga(In-State)
Annual ROI5.9%
Annual ROI5.9%
Annual ROI8.0%
Annual ROI8.0%
20 Year Net ROI$189,000
20 Year Net ROI$189,000
20 Year Net ROI$217,000
20 Year Net ROI$217,000
Total 4 Year Cost$87,400
Total 4 Year Cost$87,400
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$12,200
Grant Money Received31%
154.2%4.2%5.7%5.7%$187,000$187,000$222,000$222,000$146,000$146,00042%5$21,70049%
15University of Memphis(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI4.2%
Annual ROI4.2%
Annual ROI5.7%
Annual ROI5.7%
20 Year Net ROI$187,000
20 Year Net ROI$187,000
20 Year Net ROI$222,000
20 Year Net ROI$222,000
Total 4 Year Cost$146,000
Total 4 Year Cost$146,000
Grad Rate42%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$21,700
Grant Money Received49%

* N/A indicates school does not have an on campus living option.

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. 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 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.

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. With more than 300 degree programs, this Knoxville 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.


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