NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A new study ranks Tennessee’s community colleges surprisingly low, given that a degree at one of the public schools is now tuition free.
The personal finance website Wallethub.com is out with a ranking of 700 community colleges nationwide. The study considers several factors, including quality, cost, graduation rates, and faculty to student ratios.
Tennessee ranked eighth overall behind, among others, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Kentucky.
Wallethub analyst Jill Gonzalez says Tennessee gets top marks for its free tuition offer, but falls short in other areas.
“Graduation rates and first year retention rates were a little bit (low) across the board. I would say that’s one of the things that could certainly use improvement at the Tennessee community schools.”
Gonzalez says the scores for Tennessee’s 13 community colleges varied widely. Columbia State and Motlow State here in Middle Tennessee got top marks from Wallethub, but Nashville State scored much lower on the list.
Gonzalez says the average annual tuition at community colleges nationwide is about $3,600. That’s almost two-thirds less than one-year tuition fees at a four-year public school. She says the difference is changing student preferences.
“We are seeing that more and more people are turning to these community college programs rather than going to the typical four year university and doing just as well.”
The State of Tennessee now offers a free two-year community college education to graduating high school students, adult students and veterans.
Earlier this month, officials announced that tuition at the state’s community colleges would jump this fall by 2.7 percent. Tuition at the states technical schools will increase 3 percent.
Would you like to review the complete Wallethub community college rankings?