Scholarship Opportunities for First-Time Incoming Freshmen

Preparing to qualify for college scholarships begins long before you enroll. Our Scholarship Checklist for incoming freshmen will help you plan ahead from as early as your first year in high school to position yourself to qualify for grants and scholarships available to academically strong students. 

Scholarship Checklist  MTSU Freshman Academic Merit Scholarships 
 International Baccalaureate Scholarship  The Buchanan Fellowship/MTSU Honors College  
MTSU DREAM Scholarship  MTSU Foundation and Departmental Scholarships  
State Scholarships, Grants, and Loan Forgiveness ProgramsFinish Line Scholarship

Incoming freshman scholarship checklist

It's never too early to start getting ready for college! Take the following steps in high school to help position yourself to qualify for grants and scholarships available to academically strong students.

9th and 10th grades

  • Focus on earning high grades and preparing for the ACT and SAT. A great start will help you reach your academic goals and qualify for more scholarships!
  • Build your scholarship resume. Many scholarship committees will consider your activities, leadership, and community service in high school. Find some areas of interest in your school and/or community, and get involved in those activities. Join clubs at school, and take on leadership roles such as officer positions in those clubs. Watch for opportunities to perform community service; aim for services which make a significant impact on your community. Keep good notes on your leadership roles and community involvement, so that you can brag about yourself on your scholarship applications.

11th grade

  • All Year: Continue to focus on your grades. You need to demonstrate that you took challenging courses and achieved high grades through all four years of high school. The junior year is especially important, since you may begin applying for college admission during your spring semester.
  • Fall: Start searching for scholarship opportunities; visit our Private Scholarships webpage for suggestions on where and how to search. Begin a scholarship folder with information about scholarships in which you are interested. Note the source of the scholarship, requirements, application process, and deadline to apply.
  • Spring: Take the ACT and/or SAT at least twice, including the test with your high school class in April and one other test date. Take an ACT prep class or use software to prepare for the test.
  • Summer: Begin applying for private and institutional scholarships.

 Senior year

  • All year: Continue to focus on your grades. The lottery scholarship and many other scholarship programs will examine your GPA through the end of your senior year.
  • Fall: Continue to search and apply for private and institutional scholarships. Check our Private Scholarships website for ideas and resources to get started. 
  • Take the ACT one more time, if needed. Take the SAT at least once; some students score higher on one test than on the other, and most schools will consider the higher of the two scores presented.
  • Apply for admission to MTSU and submit test scores and transcripts by December 1 to be considered for MTSU Academic Merit Scholarships (Please Note: We will accept your ACT and/or SAT scores through the December test date, though these scores will arrive after the December 1 deadline.)
  • Submit a Buchanan Fellowship application by December 1. (Please Note: The Honors College will accept your ACT and/or SAT scores only through the October test date.)
  • Attend MTSU's College Goal TN FAFSA Prep Workshop in January, and/or one of several College Goal TN FAFSA Assistance events in January or February.
  • Spring: File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the application for federal grants and loans, the lottery scholarship, and other aid. File your FAFSA in early January to qualify for need-based aid.
  • Submit an MTSU Consolidated Scholarship Application via the ScholarX website by February 15 to be considered for the DREAM Scholarship or for Foundation scholarships awarded by the MTSU Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. Check with your academic department to learn about scholarship opportunities and application requirements for students in your major.
  • Submit scholarship acceptance forms or other required paperwork by the stated deadlines.

MTSU Freshman Academic Merit Scholarships

MTSU provides an array of academic merit scholarship opportunities, which are awarded to incoming freshmen. MTSU Freshman Academic Merit Scholarships are awarded based on ACT scores and GPA. Awards range from $2000 to $6000 per year, and are awarded to students with academic credentials of a minimum of 25 ACT and 3.5 high school GPA. An ACT score of 22 may be considered if the student is ranked 1st or 2nd in the class. 

No separate scholarship application is required for these MTSU Academic Merit Scholarships; all incoming freshmen who apply for admission and pay the application fee, meet scholarship requirements, and who will first enroll in the summer or fall term will be considered. Priority consideration will be given to students who establish eligibility for a scholarship by December 1.

If you are planning to enroll in the spring term, please be aware that these awards cannot be guaranteed. The number and amount of scholarships awarded for spring enrollees will depend on the amount of scholarship funding remaining for the current academic year after all fall enrollees are awarded. For spring consideration, all materials must be received by October 1.

Effective fall 2015, entering students receiving the National Merit/Achievement/ Hispanic, Chancellor, Presidential and True Blue Scholarships will not be required to complete service hours. Students who received the National Merit/Achievement/ Hispanic, Chancellor, Presidential, and Academic Service scholarships prior to the fall 2015 term must complete service hours as outlined in their initial award notification.

Academic requirements and award amounts for MTSU Freshman Academic Merit Scholarships

Students who will be joining MTSU in the summer or fall semesters, who apply by the priority deadline, and who meet minimum eligibility requirements for the following awards will be offered the appropriate scholarship as long as funding is available. 

National Merit/Achievement/Hispanic Scholarship

    • $6000 per year
    • National Merit, Achievement, or Hispanic Semi-Finalist (based on PSAT scores)
    • Priority deadline is February 15


    • $5000 per year
    • 3.5 GPA & 30 ACT (1320 SAT)
    • Priority deadline is December 1


    • $4000 per year
    • 3.5 GPA & 28 ACT (1240 SAT)
    • Priority deadline is December 1

True Blue

    • $3000 per year
    • 3.5 GPA & 26 ACT (1170 SAT)
    • Priority deadline is December 1


    • $2000 per year
    • 3.5 GPA & 25 ACT (1130 SAT)
    • Priority deadline is December 1


    • $3000 per year
    • 22 ACT (1020 SAT), Ranked 1 or 2 in high school class
    • Priority deadline is February 15

International Baccalaureate

    • $1000 per year
    • 3.5 GPA
    • Will graduate with International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma
    • IB scholarship can be combined with any award except Buchanan Fellowship
    • Must submit IB Diploma Verification Form to your Enrollment Counselor

* Qualifying scores for Spring 2015 scholarships are:

Chancellor 32 1410
Presidential 29 1280
True Blue 27 1210
Provost 25 1130
Val-Sal 23 1060


The fine print

GPA and test scores on file with the Admissions Office at the time of the scholarship review will be used for awarding purposes. Typically, the 6th-semester GPA and ACT/SAT scores (without writing sub-scores) through the December test date will be used for scholarship considerations. Students taking a December test should include MTSU as a score recipient to ensure that scores arrive in time for scholarship consideration.

We are happy to accept a weighted GPA if one is provided by the high school, but are unable to calculate a GPA other than what is provided on the official transcript. We will consider your highest test score (without writing sub-scores) on a single national or state test date; we are unable to "superscore" (that is, combine the highest subscores from different dates) or to accept residual scores (that is, scores for tests taken individually at a testing center rather than on a national test date).

Unless noted, scholarships are granted for a maximum of 8 semesters. Scholarships are not available during the summer term.

Recipients must meet GPA, enrollment, service (where applicable), and Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements to maintain continuing eligibility. In general, students receiving most MTSU Academic Merit Scholarships must earn a 3.0 cumulative MTSU GPA as measured at the end of each fall/spring semester.

Recipients must be US citizens or permanent residents.

In the event that MTSU offers multiple scholarships to a student, only one scholarship from the MTSU Financial Aid & Scholarship Office (including the Buchanan Fellowship) can be accepted. A student may receive a university scholarship in addition to a Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship.

A student's total aid including scholarships cannot exceed his or her budgeted Cost of Attendance. For more information, please contact your Enrollment Counselor.

The awarding of scholarships is based on the availability of funds and the criteria set forth by the appropriate governing bodies, and is subject to change without notice.

International Baccalaureate Scholarship

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program sponsors diploma projects at the high school level which include rigorous academic curricula as well as Creativity, Action, and Service components. The MTSU International Baccalaureate Scholarship recognizes incoming first-time freshmen who complete the IB diploma program at their high school with an award of $1000 per year for four years. For more information about the International Baccalaureate diploma, as well as a list of high schools which offer an IB curriculum, please visit

Eligibility requirements for the International Baccalaureate Scholarship

  • Applicants must have at least a 3.5 GPA after the junior year and must be verified by the high school as expected to graduate with an International Baccalaureate diploma.
  • Students who are interested in the International Baccalaureate Scholarship must have an admission application and an official sixth-semester transcript on file in the Admissions Office. Additionally, a completed International Baccalaureate Diploma Verification Form must be submitted by the high school to the MT One Stop by February 15. You can obtain the IB Diploma Verification Form here.
  • Please note: The International Baccalaureate Scholarship is generally only available to students who first enroll in the summer or fall term. However, students enrolling as first-time freshmen for the spring semester may be considered if funding is available. All required documents must be submitted by October 1 for spring semester consideration.
  • Applicants must be US citizens. Permanent residents may be eligible for the International Baccalaureate Scholarship if they have a valid Alien Registration Number and will graduate from a US high school; permanent residency will be verified through the FAFSA, which must be filed annually.

The fine print

  • Recipients of the International Baccalaureate Scholarship at MTSU will receive $1000 per year for four years. Recipients may receive the scholarship in addition to another academic scholarship from MTSU, other than a Buchanan Fellowship.
  • A student's total aid including scholarships cannot exceed his or her budgeted Cost of Attendance. For more information, please contact your Enrollment Counselor.
  • The award will be available for fall and spring semesters only and will be renewable for up to eight semesters, dependent on academic requirements and available funding.

The Buchanan Fellowship/MTSU Honors College

The Buchanan Fellowship is awarded through the prestigious MTSU Honors College, and is the highest academic award given to an entering freshman at Middle Tennessee State University. Students must plan to enroll for the first time in the summer or fall semester to be eligible for the Buchanan Fellowship.

Buchanan Fellows must complete a separate application process that is administered through the Honors College. Fellows selected for participation enter the university as a part of an elite cohort and participate in a specially designed cohort curriculum of courses. Fellows receive a host of special benefits including a full tuition scholarship for up to 16 credits each semester, special seminars, priority registration, a book allowance, priority consideration for study abroad, and much more. The Buchanan Fellowship award is guaranteed for four years, providing you continue to meet all requirements.

To compete for a Buchanan Fellowship, an applicant must

  • apply for undergraduate admission to Middle Tennessee
  • complete and return the Buchanan application form to the Honors College by December 1 of the year prior to fall enrollment
  • have a high school GPA greater than or equal to 3.5
  • have a composite ACT greater than or equal to 29 (SAT greater than or equal to 1280)
  • provide an official transcript of all high school work completed

Successful applicants generally possess qualifications that equal or surpass those required for other MTSU academic scholarships. For more information, visit the website of the Honors College

MTSU DREAM Scholarship (Diverse Representation and Educational Access at MTSU)

Middle Tennessee State University values the richness of learning opportunities brought to our campus through diversity in our student body and faculty. To demonstrate that commitment and encourage the enrollment of students from populations underrepresented at MTSU, scholarships are offered to freshmen who will contribute to the creation and education of a diverse student body.

The MTSU Diverse Representation and Educational Access at MTSU (DREAM) Scholarship, established in 2007, celebrates and encourages diversity at MTSU. Recipients will be selected for this scholarship based on Tennessee residency, academic requirements, financial need, and contribution to the diversity of the university. For the purpose of this scholarship, diversity is considered to include (but is not limited to) any of the following: Disability status, First-generation college students, Gender identity/expression, Personal hardships, Race or ethnicity, sexual orientation or Special gifts or talents.

Through a combination of state and University funds, recipients of the DREAM Scholarship will receive funding equal to full tuition (up to 15 hours) plus $500 per semester. Please note that tuition does not include the costs of housing or meals. Students may be able to receive other types of aid to cover these expenses. MTSU scholarship funds will be used to supplement the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship to equal the total award amount. Recipients may receive the DREAM scholarship in addition to other financial aid, provided the total amount received from all sources does not exceed the budgeted Cost of Attendance.

DREAM Scholarship eligibility requirements

To qualify for the DREAM scholarship, you must be:

  • An incoming freshman joining the university in the summer or fall semester
  • A Tennessee resident, and US citizen or permanent resident
  • A graduate of Tennessee high school or Tennessee homeschool

In addition, you must:

  • Meet current academic and other eligibility requirements for the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship as of the February 15 scholarship application deadline
  • Have an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) of 12,000 or less on FAFSA
  • Enroll full-time for every fall and spring semester
  • Applicants must complete the Consolidated Scholarship Application via the ScholarX website.
  • Meet diversity requirements

DREAM Scholarship renewal requirements

The DREAM Scholarship will be available for fall and spring semesters only and will be renewable for up to eight semesters, dependent on available funding. Students must meet the following requirements to retain the award: 

  • Enroll full-time (at least 12 hours) every fall and spring semester
  • Meet all renewal requirements for the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship, including but not limited to the following:
        • Complete the FAFSA annually, by May 1 of each year, and complete the verification process by July 1, if selected
        • Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements
        • Meet GPA and enrollment requirements for the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program
        • Meet financial need requirements

DREAM Scholarship application process

Students who are interested in the DREAM Scholarship must submit the documents and forms listed below by February 15 for priority consideration.

  • Admission application and any required application fees
  • Official ACT and/or SAT test scores. GPA and test scores on file with the Admissions Office at the time of the scholarship review will be used for awarding purposes. Typically, the 6th-semester GPA and ACT/SAT scores (without writing sub-scores) through the December test date will be used for scholarship considerations. Only graduates of eligible Tennessee schools can qualify based on GPA.
  • Official sixth-semester high school transcript
  • Consolidated Scholarship Application via the ScholarX website.
  • Applicants must submit a FAFSA by March 1 and have valid FAFSA results on file in the MTSU Financial Aid Office by March 15.

DREAM Scholarship: Frequently Asked Questions

Does the DREAM Scholarship pay for all college expenses?

No, it provides assistance with tuition only. The DREAM Scholarship, in combination with the lottery scholarship, covers 15 hours of tuition and required fees plus $500 per semester. It does not cover special course fees or the costs of housing or meals. However, you may be able to receive other types of aid such as grants or loans to cover these additional expenses. 

How does MTSU calculate the DREAM Scholarship amount?

One student's scholarship amount may differ from another student's amount because of differences in the lottery scholarship that is received. Lottery scholarship amounts may vary, depending on the particular awards for which a student eligible. The DREAM scholarship adds to the lottery scholarship amount received, and together the DREAM and the lottery scholarship, combined, will cover the cost of 15 hours of tuition plus an additional $500 per semester.

What if I apply for the DREAM Scholarship but am not eligible for the lottery scholarship?

The DREAM Scholarship is a "partner scholarship", awarded in conjunction with the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship. If we determine at any time that you do not meet initial or continuing eligibility requirements for the lottery scholarship, we will also be required to cancel the DREAM Scholarship. (Please note that we will also be required to cancel the DREAM Scholarship if we determine you do not meet any of the other DREAM requirements, such as EFC limits.)

What does a recipient need to do to renew the scholarship for the next year?

Each recipient will automatically receive the award again each year as long as he or she meets the renewal requirements noted above. You must remain eligible for the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship and must be enrolled in at least 12 hours each semester. You must file the new FAFSA form each year and have an Estimated Family Contribution of $15,000 or less.. As long as you meet these requirements, you will continue to be eligible for the DREAM Scholarship for up to 8 semesters.

MTSU Foundation and departmental scholarships

MTSU offers approximately 700 endowed and other scholarships to approximately 2000 students each year through special programs sponsored by various academic and administrative departments. Application processes vary from department to department. Many of these Foundation and departmental scholarships require online applications or paper applications, while others are awarded based on academic achievement or other factors and do not require an application.

What is a Foundation Scholarship?

A Foundation Scholarship is an endowed award, with funding that initially came to MTSU from an outside benefactor. The scholarship donor, often an MTSU alumnus or a local charitable organization, gives funds to MTSU and designates that the funds be used to offer scholarships to students meeting certain criteria. MTSU uses the available funds to award scholarships to students who match each donor's preferences and requirements. For example, a donor might ask that a scholarship be given to students in a particular major, or to students who have financial need.

Of special interest to new freshmen will be the generous Centennial Scholarship, made possible by private donations celebrating MTSU’s 100th anniversary. Centennial Scholars receive awards in the amount of $4000; criteria include a 3.5 GPA, an ACT Composite score of at least 29, and other requirements related to activities, leadership, letters of recommendation. For more information, please search for the Centennial Scholarship using our ScholarX search tool.

Additional Foundation Scholarships are assigned to the departments which are best able to identify eligible students; for instance, a scholarship for chemistry majors will be awarded by the chemistry department, while a scholarship for art students is assigned to the art department. 

What is a departmental scholarship?

A departmental scholarship has funding that comes from within the budget of a specific academic or other department, and that department selects the recipients. These scholarships are often performance-based, with specific performance requirements, which must be completed for the student to continue to receive the scholarship. For example, a music departmental scholarship may require a student to register for certain classes and to participate in specific music ensembles; an athletic scholarship may require the recipient to play on a certain athletic team. 

How do I search for and apply for Foundation scholarships?

MTSU Financial Aid and Scholarships maintains a database of most MTSU Foundation Scholarships. To search for and apply for Foundation Scholarships, take these easy step:

  1. Go to the 'ScholarX Search Tool', then click on a search button to indicate how you wish to search. Press Submit to start the search.
    1. Use the Category Search feature to find scholarships which match a certain profile, such as major, county, or classification.
    2. Use the Description and Name Search feature to find scholarships which contain a certain word in the name or description. In particular, incoming freshmen may wish to search for the SouthEast Bank Scholarship and/or the Centennial Scholarship.  
    3. The Keyword Feature is not in use at the current time.
  2. Read the descriptions of the listed scholarships to find awards in which you are interested.
  3. For awards of interest, read the "How to Apply" instructions carefully.
    1. If the scholarship uses an online application through ScholarX, a link will be provided in the instructions.
    2. Otherwise, the instructions will include a website, phone number, office location, or other information about how to get an application.
    3. Please note that some scholarships do not require an application but are instead awarded based on academic achievements or other factors.
    4. Important: Disregard the "Apply!" link at the top of the page. MTSU does not use this feature.

Foundation and departmental scholarship deadlines

Most scholarships have an application deadline of February 15. After a scholarship deadline has passed, the application for that scholarship will no longer be available or accepted. After all deadlines have passed for the upcoming year, the scholarship search page will be available but students will not be able to apply for any of the listed awards.

Departmental scholarships of special interest

Information regarding four of our most popular areas of interest are noted below. Please be aware that this is not a comprehensive list, so you should additionally contact departments of interest to ask about scholarship opportunities and follow the instructions above to search the ScholarX website for other opportunities.

  • Army ROTC Scholarships - Awarded to ROTC program participants by the Military Science department. For more information, visit the above website or call 615-898-2470.
  • Music Scholarships - Competitive music scholarships are awarded to both music and non-music majors for instrumental or vocal performance. Band scholarships are also available. For audition dates and requirements, please visit the above web site or call (615) 898-2469.
  • Scholarships through the June Anderson Center Scholarship for Women and Non-traditional Students
  • Student-Athlete scholarships at MTSU are awarded by the coaches of that particular sport. For more information, please contact the appropriate coaching staff.

State scholarships, grants, and loan forgiveness programs

In addition to the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program (TELS), Tennessee residents may qualify for state-based aid programs, which include a need-based grant, several scholarships based on merit or other factors, and loan forgiveness programs for students in certain majors. These programs are administered through the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation.


Please contact your Enrollment Counselor!