Tennessee: The Return on Investment to Increasing Postsecondary Credential Attainment

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Tennessee Must Improve College Participation and Credential Attainment Rates to Remain Competitive

  • To remain globally competitive, the U.S. and each state should ensure that at least 60% of adults ages 25 to 64 have an associate or bachelor’s degree by 2025. In Tennessee, the current rate is 31.9%.
  • Tennessee ranks 7th among 50 states in the size of the credential increase it needs to achieve annually. To meet the 60% goal, it will need to produce an additional 666,647 degrees by 2025.
  • By achieving rates of the top-performing states, Tennessee can produce about 235,000 bachelor’s degrees, 185,000 associate degrees and 89,000 certificates by 2025.



Meeting Top Performers Produces Significant Personal Economic Return


Per capita income increases when the state meets top performers

  • Under current postsecondary investment patterns, annual personal per capita income in Tennessee is projected to increase by about $26 in 2025.
  • By meeting top performers, annual per capita income would increase significantly more, by approximately $1,400 in 2025.



Meeting Top Performance Produces Significant Economic Returns to the State

Status quo produces small returns

Under current postsecondary investment patterns, Tennessee’s state revenues will increase by about $14 million in 2025.

Meeting top performance pays off

By meeting top performance, Tennessee will generate more annual revenue, topping approximately $870 million in 2025.

State Revenues Exceed Costs When Top Performance Goal is Met

Status Quo: Costs exceed revenues

Under current postsecondary investment patterns,
Tennessee’s postsecondary costs exceed state revenues
by about $20 million by 2025.

Meet top performance: Revenues exceed costs

By meeting top performance, Tennessee’s revenues
exceed postsecondary costs by about $400 million by

This analysis was prepared using the CLASP-NCHEMS Return on Investment Dashboard tool.  See clasp2022.tealmedia.dev/ROIdashboard