Pay For College

Once you decide to go back to school to get a certificate or degree, you will need to plan how to pay for it.

Research Your Federal Financial Aid Options.

Finding out if you are eligible for federal financial aid begins with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is available online at 

Federal financial aid comes in the form of grants, work-study, and loans. Grants are funds that do not have to be repaid. Work-study are funds earned through a student-friendly job on or near campus while attending school. Loans are borrowed funds that must be repaid with interest.

Federal Pell Grant

This grant provides varying amounts (maximum is $5,775) based on your demonstrated financial need. Close to 60% of adults attending college in Tennessee are Pell eligible. The Department of Education calculates your Pell eligibility based on several factors, including your financial need, the cost of attendance, and how many courses you will take.


  • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Undergraduates who have not earned a bachelor's or professional degree

*Students are ineligible if they have defaulted on a loan, not registered for selective service, or incarcerated. You may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

Discover resources here in Tennessee that will help you pay for college.

Tennessee Reconnect Grant

The Tennessee Reconnect Grant is a last-dollar grant that pays the remaining balance of tuition and mandatory fees after other state and federal financial aid have been applied.

The Tennessee Reconnect Grant is available for eligible adults who want to pursue associate degrees, technical degrees, or technical diplomas at a Tennessee community college or technical college.

The Tennessee Reconnect Grant can also be used at an eligible public or private college or university towards an eligible associate degree, but it is not a last-dollar grant.

Reconnect at a TCAT

The Reconnect Grant can help you pay towards a diploma or certificate at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCATs). TCATs are located throughout the state of Tennessee, and they provide a wide range of quality technical and occupational training programs that connect students with high-quality careers.

Reconnect for an Associate Degree

The Reconnect Grant can also be used at Tennessee community colleges and some four-year institutions to pay for tuition while earning a two-year associate degree. This grant pays the remaining balance after other state financial aid and Pell Grants have been applied towards tuition and mandatory fees at the community college. At a four-year institution, the Tennessee Reconnect Grant will not be last-dollar, meaning it will not cover all tuition and fees. The amount of funding you may receive will be based on the average amount of tuition and fees at a community college.

Find a Reconnect-eligible college or university.


Use Tennessee College Pays to find information on other financial aid available in Tennessee such as the TN HOPE Scholarship for Non-traditional students and the Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA). The site includes scholarship requirements as well as links to scholarship applications.

If you have questions, contact the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) help desk toll free at (800) 342-1663.

Check with your school to learn about institutional scholarships.

Find out if your institution offers institutional scholarships and if you qualify for any of them.


If you are a Veteran or Service Member, learn about the benefits and grants available to you.

Veterans and service members have many options available to help them pay for college. To learn about these options, visit Education Benefits for Veterans and Active Duty Military

You may be able to use your training to get a head start on a college credential. The TN-SOP (Servicemember Opportunity Portal) tool can help you find out if your military experience will translate to academic credit at Tennessee public colleges.

Find out if your employer will help support your education.

Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs, flextime, and college savings plans, among other resources. If applicable, check with your current employer to see if you may receive any such education benefits or support in scheduling work around your classes.