Leaders & Laggards

A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education

Tennessee

Student Access & Success

Tennessee’s four-year institutions receive a low grade in this area, with a high percentage of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants but lower scores in credentials per 100 full-time equivalent undergraduates, retention rate, and completion rate. The state’s two-year institutions perform well, with a percentage of students receiving Pell Grants and a completion rate that both rank in the top 10.

Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness

Tennessee receives a low grade in this area for four-year institutions, with a cost per completion ($77,521) and state and local funding per completion ($52,500) that fall in the bottom 10 of all states. Tennessee’s two-year institutions receive a good grade, with a cost per completion ($50,239) and state and local funding per completion ($30,708) in the middle third of all states nationally.

Meeting Labor Market Demand

The median wage of a Tennessee bachelor’s degree holder is approximately $18,400 (or 65%) more than the median wage of a high school graduate; the overall unemployment rate for a bachelor’s degree holder is about 5 points lower. The median wage of an associate’s degree holder is approximately $10,300 (or 36%) more than the median wage of a high school graduate; the overall unemployment rate is about 3 points lower.

Transparency & Accountability

Tennessee receives an average score for its consumer information and public accountability resources. The state measures student learning outcomes as a piece of its outcomes-based funding system, allowing institutions to use different national tests. The state also looks at job placement rates for two-year institutions.

Policy Environment

Tennessee’s plan for higher education includes goals for student outcomes and system efficiency. The state also has one of the oldest outcomes-based funding programs in the country, based on a broad range of performance outcomes. Tennessee’s articulation policy spells out 60-credit blocks of general education classes that students can transfer, and the state is exploring common course numbering.

Innovation

The Regents Online Campus Collaborative is one of the more robust efforts to promote online learning in the country, resulting in an above average grade. The initiative provides a clear path for students to register at a “home campus” and then take online courses at four- and two-year institutions across the state. Regarding new providers, Tennessee has one of the more restrictive regulatory environments in the country, with an approval process that is among the most burdensome.

Report Card

Compare with

Four-Year Institutions

TN Nat'l
Student Access & Success D
Percentage of Pell Grant Recipients 37.8 30.8
Retention Rate 73.4 77.9
Completion Rate 46.0 54.5
Completions per 100 FTE Students 18.4 19.7
Risk-Adjusted Completion Points (5-point Scale) 3
Complete College America *
Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness D
Cost Per Completion $77,521 $68,140
State and Local Funding Per Completion $52,500 $41,198
State, Local, and Tuition Funding Per Completion $79,949 $76,932
Cost Per Completion and Public Funding Combined Measure (5-point scale) 2
Meeting Labor Market Demand B
BA vs. HS Wage Gap (Overall) $18,397 $17,881
BA vs. HS Wage Ratio (Overall) 164.9 156.0
BA vs. HS Wage Gap (25–34) $14,702 $12,703
BA vs. HS Wage Ratio (25–34) 161.8 149.9
BA vs. HS Unemployment Gap (Overall) 5.1 4.0
BA vs. HS Unemployment Ratio (Overall) 2.2 2.1
BA vs. HS Unemployment Gap (25–34) 8.2 7.1
BA vs. HS Unemployment Ratio (25–34) 3.0 2.9
Transparency & Accountability C
Transparency—Public Accountability (5-point Scale) 3
Transparency—Consumer Information (3-point Scale) 1
Does the State Report Labor Market Outcomes? true
Labor Market Outcomes (4-point Scale) 1
Does the State Report Student Learning Outcomes? true
Student Learning Outcomes (3-point Scale) 2

Two-Year Institutions

TN Nat'l
Student Access & Success B
Percentage of Pell Grant Recipients 61.0 46.9
Retention Rate 60.0 58.6
Completion Rate 31.6 20.5
Completions Per 100 FTE Undergraduates 17.4 16.8
Risk-Adjusted Completion Points (5-point Scale) 3
Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness B
Cost Per Completion $50,239 $57,210
State and Local Funding Per Completion $30,708 $35,476
State, Local, and Tuition Funding Per Completion $44,013 $52,512
Cost Per Completion and Public Funding Combined MeasureCombined Measure (5-point Scale) 3
Meeting Labor Market Demand C
AA vs. HS Wage Gap (Overall) $10,265 $8,545
AA vs. HS Wage Ratio (Overall) 136.2 126.1
AA vs. HS Wage Gap (25–34) $6,600 $6,595
AA vs. HS Wage Ratio (25–34) 127.7 125.0
AA vs. HS Unemployment Gap (Overall) 3.1 2.7
AA vs. HS Unemployment Ratio (Overall) 1.5 1.5
AA vs. HS Unemployment Gap (25–34) 4.1 4.9
AA vs. HS Unemployment Ratio (25–34) 1.49 1.84
Transparency & Accountability C
Transparency—Public Accountability (5-point Scale) 3
Transparency—Consumer Information (3-point Scale) 0
Does the State Report Labor Market Outcomes? true
Labor Market Outcomes (4-point Scale) 2
Does the State Report Student Learning Outcomes? true
Student Learning Outcomes (3-point Scale) 2

State

TN Nat'l
Policy Environment A
State Goals (6-point Scale) 4
Does the State Have Outcomes-Based Funding? true
Four-Year Outcomes-Based Funding (3-point Scale) 3
Two-Years Outcomes-Based Funding (3-point Scale) 3
Does the State Have a Credit Transfer Policy? true
Credit Transfer Policy (5-point Scale) 4
Innovation: Openness to Providers F
Numerical Openness to New Providers Grade 50%
Regulatory Jurisdiction 50%
Financial Burden 60%
Approval Process Burden 40%
Innovation: Online Learning B
Numerical Online Learning Grade 71.4
Online Learning Score (7-point Scale) 5

State Facts at a Glance

  • Number of Public Four-Year Institutions 9
  • Number of Public Two-Year Institutions 39
  • Number of Students Served by Public Four-Year Institutions 102184
  • Number of Students Served by Public Two-Year Institutions 76631
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