Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship

(Promulgated Rules)  (STEP UP Application)

The Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship is a program designed to assist students with intellectual disabilities who have completed high school and enroll in an individualized program of study of up to four (4) years at an eligible postsecondary institution.

Name of Institution            Program Name
Lipscomb University           IDEAL Program (January 2014)
Union University                 Union EDGE Program 
University of Memphis      TigerLIFE
University of Tennessee    UT FUTURE
Vanderbilt University         Next Steps

For a list of eligible postsecondary institutions, please click here.

For entering students beginning with Fall 2015 and thereafter

Students will receive $1,750 per semester.

For students who first received the STEP UP Scholarship in Fall 2012 through Summer 2015

Students will continue to receive $2,000 per semester.

Students and parents must complete the STEP UP Scholarship application and mail the completed application to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC). In addition, recipients must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) once per academic year. The FAFSA can be completed by clicking here.

The deadlines to complete both applications are:

  • Fall - September 1
  • Spring - February 1
  • Summer - May 1

An eligible postsecondary program is defined as a postsecondary program that has received the Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program designation from the United States Department of Education and is offered by an eligible postsecondary institution that assists students with intellectual disabilities, as defined in § 33-1-101, who have completed high school, but who need a strong system of education supports and services to access and obtain postsecondary education.


To be an eligible postsecondary program, a program shall consist of an individualized program of study of up to four (4) years designed to provide meaningful postsecondary activities, including academic, career development and exploration and independent living skills, on the postsecondary campus.

To be eligible, the applicant must:

  • Not be ineligible for the scholarship under § 49-4-904;
  • Have been a Tennessee resident, as defined by regulations promulgated by the board of regents under § 49-8-104, for one (1) year immediately preceding the date of application for a scholarship or the renewal of the scholarship;
  • Complete high school in a Tennessee high school in accordance with the requirements of the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and receive a high school diploma, occupational diploma or certificate, a special education diploma, a transition certificate, or an IEP certificate;
  • Be admitted to and enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution in an eligible postsecondary program no later than sixteen (16) months after completing high school; and
  • Apply for a Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship each academic year

To continue to be eligible for a Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship, a student shall:

  • Maintain continual enrollment in the eligible postsecondary program as defined by the eligible postsecondary institution; and
  • Make satisfactory academic progress in the student’s program of study as determined by the eligible postsecondary institution

Students, who lose the scholarship at any time for any reason, shall not be eligible to regain the scholarship.


Students may receive the award until the first of the following events:

  • The student receives a credential signifying completion of the eligible postsecondary program; or
  • The period required to complete the eligible postsecondary program, as determined by the eligible postsecondary institution, has elapsed.

Students who receive an approved medical or personal leave of absence from an eligible postsecondary institution may continue to receive the scholarship upon resuming the student’s education in the eligible postsecondary program. The student must continue to meet all eligibility requirements. The sum of the number of years that the student attended the eligible postsecondary program prior to the leave of absence and the number of years of attendance after the leave of absence equals the number of years required to complete the eligible postsecondary program in which the student is enrolled, as determined by the eligible postsecondary institution.


The sum of all financial aid, including a Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship, for which a student qualifies, cannot exceed the institutionally defined total cost of education at the eligible postsecondary institution the scholarship recipient is attending. If the total cost of education is exceeded then the Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship may be reduced.