Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship

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.

Four-Year Institutions:

Award amount is up to $2,250 per full-time enrollment semester as a freshman and sophomore; then up to $2,850 per full-time enrollment semester as a junior and senior.  Determination of class status is made by the postsecondary institution. 

Two-Year Institutions: 

Up to $1,600 per
full-time enrollment semester as a freshman and sophomore

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.

To be eligible, the applicant must:

  • Not be ineligible for the scholarship under § 49-4-904;
  • Have been a Tennessee resident as classified by the Tennessee Board of Education; pursuant to TCA 49-8-104;
  • 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 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.

Programs and Eligible Institutions

Name of Institution Program Name
Dyersburg State Community College Eagle Access Program
Lipscomb University IDEAL Program
Union University Union EDGE Program
University of Memphis TigerLIFE
University of Tennessee, Knoxville UT FUTURE
Vanderbilt University Next Steps

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.


Students and parents must complete and submit the STEP UP Scholarship application. The application can be submitted by downloading the application and clicking the submit button in the application or by emailing the form to STEPUP.program@tn.gov.  In addition, recipients must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for each academic year. The FAFSA can be completed by clicking here.

Application Process

The deadlines to complete both applications are:

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

STEP UP Scholarship Application