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Motlow Provides Above Average Return on College Investment

February 4, 2022

Motlow CampusesMotlow State Community College produces a great return on investment for students and their families. Motlow saves you money down the road for things other than student loan debt. National data reveals that not all colleges are as successful at raising value and controlling costs. According to a recent investigation by the Washington Post, not all students get a positive return on their college investment.

Motlow offers an array of value-added services that help its graduates complete a degree with little or no debt and enter the marketplace ready for high-demand careers. Students in Motlow’s service area are offered early college admission through dual enrollment, which includes tuition scholarships and grants. The College’s degree pathways have an ever-increasing list of embedded micro-credentials to give its graduates a competitive edge.

College is an important decision, and the cost of obtaining an education shouldn’t be a barrier to learning skills that can improve your life. Are you getting your money’s worth from your education? Almost two years in pandemic mode, many students, graduates, and even potential students are determining if they got, or are getting, their money’s worth. 

Student success and workforce development are central to Motlow’s mission

The needs of citizens in the community are the priority of a community college. For-profit colleges or large research universities have different missions compared to state community colleges. That’s why there is a huge difference in costs, access, value, and student support services. A for-profit college must produce a profit, and their tuition costs reflect that. A four-year institution is motivated by publish or perish demands, and their selective admissions strategies reflect that. A community college mission is to prepare students for employment, career advancement, entrepreneurship, or to ensure a student is transfer-ready—all while mitigating tuition debt, and Motlow’s programming reflects that.

Motlow puts student success above financial gain. Tennessee students can utilize TN Promise and TN Reconnect scholarships for Motlow courses to complete without having to pay large sums of money to tuition and fees. The College also cultivates paid internships, apprenticeships, and donor-funded scholarships to help students pay for college. Motlow is proactive in helping students identify all sources of federal and state financial aid.

“One of the College’s main objectives is to assist students in graduating Motlow with little or no debt using the programs that the State of Tennessee provides for students, if eligible,” said Hilda Tunstill, Motlow’s executive vice president for Business and Finance.

TN Promise and TN Reconnect Help Students Stay Out of Debt

Promise specifically provides Tennessee high school graduates the opportunity to attend any in-state community college tuition free, if applicable criteria are met. It covers most tuition and fees that may not be covered by the Pell Grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds.

Similarly, Reconnect is for adults attending college to gain new skills, advance in the workplace, and fulfill lifelong dreams of completing a degree or certificate. It may also cover the costs of tuition and mandatory fees not paid through other state and federal financial aid.

Even if a student is not eligible for Promise or Reconnect, or other forms of financial assistance for college, Motlow keeps the cost of getting a quality education affordable. For example,  nursing students at Motlow can complete an associate degree in two years. Tuition at Motlow costs about $8498. Two years later, they earn an average of $52,000 per year. Another example is the College’s mechatronics degree, where students earn an Associate of Applied Science for about $7,342 for tuition and make $45,000 or more after graduation.

“Tennessee uses a formula to fund all state colleges and universities. The more successful an institution is at meetings its goals, the better it performs in the funding formula. Motlow must succeed at ensuring student success in order for us to continue to be appropriately funded. When students realize that student success is our mission, they understand why there is no better place for any student to begin their college career,” said Dr. Erica Lee, director of Recruitment and New Student Services at Motlow.

Comparing the Cost of College Education

According to an article in the Washington Post, a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Ithaca College costs $132,656, on average, and two years later, graduates are earning $19,227. That same article states that a philosophy degree from Oberlin costs $142,220, and graduates two years later make $18,154, on average. These are just a couple of examples where students graduate with monstrous amounts of debt. These numbers potentially leave students in a worse financial position than if they had never even started the program in the first place.

“The institution’s governing board sets tuition costs. Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative allows Motlow to offer tuition assistance to students to make their education more affordable,” said Lee.

Potential students can find a more comparative example by looking at Syracuse, where a bachelor’s degree in studio and fine arts costs $137,888. Two years later, students who got one earn an average of $17,624. For a two-year associate degree in fine arts at Motlow, the tuition costs approximately $7,553, and graduates earn an average of $47,000.

To figure out how much money graduates are likely to make with a particular major at a given institution, consumers can select a college or university on the Department of Education’s College Scorecard website, then choose a field of study. According to the Scorecard, the average annual cost to attend Motlow is $6,885, including tuition, fees, books, and supplies after financial aid. After graduation, the median total debt is a meager $3,500 compared to the monumental amounts previously mentioned from other institutions. Motlow graduates are making more than $52,000 per year with just an associate degree.

Motlow Offers More Than Degrees

Motlow offers certification and training for non-degree seekers. Students can earn credentials and education that pays off without spending two years and thousands of dollars. There are several other ways that the College saves students money. Several courses utilize open educational resources (OER), so students don’t need to purchase textbooks. There is also a student pantry on each campus stocked with non-perishable food items free for students to take. And, for those students who start school with prior knowledge and experience, credit for prior learning can earn Motlow credits for a fraction of the price of taking the actual class.

On top of all of this, Motlow even partnered with T-Mobile to offer free cell phones with unlimited wi-fi hot spots for a year, and Nashville Diaper Company to provide a year supply of baby diapers to Reconnect student-parents in need.

“Motlow is a sound financial decision. Motlow offers grants and scholarships through Federal and state funding. In addition, institutional scholarships are available, and outside scholarships are accepted. Motlow does not offer student loans,” Tunstill said.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient, and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. The system offers associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs, and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at or visit Motlow at

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