Qualifying students can attend MTSU for little or ...

Qualifying students can attend MTSU for little or no tuition

Can you attend Middle Tennessee State University tuition-free? For many students, the answer is yes.

MTSU launched an effort Friday, July 1, to help students navigate several scenarios and options that could eliminate, or greatly reduce, the cost of tuition.

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU president
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

“MTSU’s tuition was already the lowest of the state’s three major universities,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “So our decision to hold it flat for the coming academic year, plus recent increases by the state in the HOPE Lottery Scholarship, means many can attend our university at no tuition cost.”

Admissions recruiters and academic advisors are encouraging students to go to a new website,, and engage with an enrollment coordinator via a Zoom virtual portal.

Coordinators will review various scenarios with students to determine eligibility.

MTSU’s Board of Trustees voted June 14 to keep tuition and program services fees flat for the coming academic year this fall. A full-time, in-state undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours in both the fall and spring semesters will pay $7,704 in tuition and $1,888 in program service fees for a total cost of $9,592 for the academic year.

The state also recently increased the amount of its Tennessee Education Lottery’s HOPE Scholarship, raising what it pays eligible freshmen and sophomores to $4,500 a year from $3,500, while juniors and seniors will receive $5,700 a year instead of $4,500. Students need a 21 on the ACT or must graduate with a 3.0 GPA, while meeting other state requirements, to qualify for these awards.

For HOPE-eligible students, the difference between MTSU’s tuition cost — about $5,100 — and the scholarship payout could be mitigated by a variety and combination of means, including federal Pell Grant monies, last-chance academic scholarships from MTSU, and tuition discounts afforded to teachers and state employees.

Dr. Debra Sells, Vice President, Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Academic Services
Dr. Debra Sells

“Even students who receive a partial Pell Grant can still attend very inexpensively,” said Dr. Debra Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment services. “We want to make sure students and families who might be sitting on the fence for attending the fall, and those who have already committed, know whether they qualify for any combination of these programs.”

The scenarios outlined on the MTFree website apply only to first-time freshmen who are Tennessee residents and would be attending as full-time students.

Although MTSU’s highest value guaranteed scholarships have a deadline of Dec. 1, the MTFree website shows a range of scenarios that include last-chance academic scholarships available for first-time freshmen. These scholarships are still available for late applicants and require a minimum score of 23 on the ACT and a 3.5 GPA in high school.

MTSU wordmark

One such scenario on the website: Sally is an incoming marketing major with a high school GPA of 3.1 and a 21 on the ACT test. She wants to start in fall 2022 but did not submit her application before Dec. 1, 2021. Her family income level allows her to receive the maximum Pell Grant.

 In this case, as illustrated in the chart below, she would enroll tuition-free, plus see a surplus of about $1,800 in her student account.

“We realize that everyone’s situation is a little different,” Sells said. “These scenarios are generalizations. That’s why it’s important that you speak with an enrollment coordinator. We want to help you find the answers specific to you.”

In addition to the virtual portal, those interested in discussing their options can also contact an enrollment coordinator via email at

— Andrew Oppmann (