Why Choose a Private College or University in Tennessee?
Private colleges and universities provide many benefits to students, including smaller class sizes that allow for more personal attention from professors. Enrollees in private schools also generally enjoy greater access to student services because these institutions serve fewer students. Private colleges and universities in Tennessee also tend to offer courses that promote rigor and academic excellence, giving learning a prominent place in the college experience.
Some students who value academics may still prefer public education. Public schools tend to charge lower tuition rates because they receive federal and state funding. Also, because public institutions usually enroll more students, they typically offer more majors and degree programs from which students can choose.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 45 private nonprofit four-year colleges exist in Tennessee, compared to 10 public four-year institutions. When comparing these figures, private colleges in Tennessee might offer prospective students more choices in higher education.
Some of the best private schools in Tennessee rank competitively with other colleges and universities nationwide. As a member of the Academic Common Market, Tennessee adheres to a reciprocity agreement with select southern states.
Pros and Cons of Attending a Private College or University in Tennessee
Private schools generally offer more generous financial aid.Students at many private schools can gain greater access to scholarships and grants.Lower student enrollments at many private colleges mean smaller class sizes and more individual attention and mentoring.Most four-year private colleges place considerable emphasis on learning, which often results in rigorous curricula.
Private schools are typically more expensive than public institutions.They tend to offer fewer majors than public institutions.Except for many research institutions, private schools typically provide fewer opportunities to gain research experience.The academic demands of many private schools can make working full- or part-time while studying difficult.
Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in Tennessee
All public colleges and universities are nonprofit. However, private schools can be either nonprofit or for-profit. Boards of trustees or directors manage nonprofit schools, which typically receive funding from their state and the federal government, driving down tuition costs.
For-profit colleges operate like businesses, primarily focusing on generating profits. At these schools, investors typically make decisions about academic offerings and other operations. Although a for-profit education can cost up to $8,500 more per year, they do not always provide the same academic rigor as nonprofits, and they do not always hold proper institutional accreditation.
For-profit colleges can offer certain advantages, such as scheduling flexibility, allowing working professionals to further their education. Students attending private for-profit institutions might also pay lower tuition rates than enrollees attending their nonprofit counterparts. According to NCES, Tennessee is home to 23 for-profit two- and four-year institutions that enroll over 14,000 students.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private College or University in Tennessee?
According to NCES, students at four-year private colleges and universities in Tennessee paid more than $40,000 per year on average during the 2019-2020 academic year. This figure includes more than $29,000 in tuition and fees alone. The cost of room and board averaged almost $11,000 annually.
Tennessee's least and most expensive private colleges and universities vary in annual tuition, fees, and other expenses. For example, Vanderbilt University in Nashville charges the highest tuition in the state, $54,840 annually as of 2021-2022. In contrast, students at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis paid about $11,000 in tuition per year.
Prospective students with limited funds and dreams of private education can see if they qualify for tuition reimbursement or scholarships. Although student loans serve as a way to pay for college, other options exist, including work-study programs and federal grants that do not require repayment.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges and Universities in Tennessee
How many private colleges and universities are there in Tennessee?
According to NCES, Tennessee is home to 45 private nonprofit four-year colleges and 10 public four-year institutions.
The best private schools in Tennessee depend on a student's needs. They vary by tuition and expenses, student body size, number of academic majors, and other characteristics.
Students looking for a more diverse student body or one with a more significant percentage of students of color might consider applying to historically Black colleges or universities (HBCUs) in the state.
What is the most expensive private college or university in Tennessee?
Students attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville paid the highest tuition at any private school in the state in 2021-2022. Tuition, housing, meals, books, and other fees added up to almost $80,000 per year.
The cost of higher education has increased more than 170% over the past 40 years for public and private school students. Some of the drivers of increasing higher education expenses include rising tuition rates, growing demand for student services, and increases in administrative costs.
What is the least expensive private college or university in Tennessee?
During the 2021-2022 school year, students at Lane College in Jackson paid $9,270 in tuition, the lowest annual tuition rate for a private, nonprofit school in Tennessee.
The least expensive for-profit private school in Tennessee is Victory University in Memphis, with students paying $4,000-$8,000 in tuition during the same academic year.
Is a private college or university right for me?
For many students, pursuing private higher education reflects a choice based on financial considerations, educational goals, and other factors.
Anyone considering the best private schools in Tennessee should prepare to pay the relatively high tuition either with their own funds or by obtaining scholarships or financial aid.
Students should also consider their need for individual attention and academic tutoring. The smaller class sizes at most private schools allow learners to get more personalized attention from professors who teach fewer students. Also, applicants who know the major they want to pursue might thrive in a private college that offers their chosen area of study.
Can I get more scholarship money at a private college or university?
Although private schools vary in thescholarship money they award, they generally offer more funding for qualifying students than public institutions because of private donations, investments, and endowments.
Some scholarships award money to students with outstanding GPAs or high entrance exam scores. Students can also obtain scholarship funding for meeting other criteria, such as demonstrating financial need or excellence in athletics.
College applicants should contact their prospective schools or go to their websites to find the types of scholarships they offer.