Cumberland University Students Greatly Exceed Statewide Tennessee Promise Retention, Degree Completion Rates

UTK STUDY: Historic private university going “above and beyond” to provide student access

Tennessee Promise students are beating the state average for degree completions at historic Cumberland University, which has been able to diversify its student body and provide significant college access to low income students through the program.

A University of Tennessee’s Postsecondary Education Research Center (PERC) study outlines Cumberland University’s performance since beginning to accept the Tennessee Promise in 2015.

After examining the 2015-2018 Tennessee Promise cohorts at the school, the study shows Cumberland provided access for 1,067 Tennessee Promise students. Nearly 84 percent of first year Tennessee Promise students at the school said they would not be able to attend Cumberland University if not for Tennessee Promise.

Overall, the study shows the school is beating statewide averages in retention and completions, with degree completion rates of 44.9 percent and 50.9 percent for the 2015 and 2016 Tennessee Promise cohorts at the school. The statewide average completion rate is 23.6 percent.

The study also notes Cumberland University is accepting the Tennessee Promise as payment in full for each semester of tuition rather than charging those students the standard tuition amount.

“Thus, Cumberland University makes a commitment that goes above and beyond the requirements to provide access to student who otherwise would have to take out loans to cover the balance after TN Promise funds are applied,” the study states.

Cumberland University President Paul C. Stumb said the study is affirmation that the school is among the best college destinations for Tennessee Promise students statewide.

“It is possible to attend a historic, liberal arts college and be a Tennessee Promise student,” Stumb said. “By providing a full college experience on a diverse campus with engaged mentoring we are taking the Tennessee Promise experience to the next level. Additionally, our Cumberland Promise scholarship makes it simple for Tennessee Promise students to transition to a four-year baccalaureate degree program.”

The study, Pathways to Success: How Cumberland University Increases College Access, Retention and Completion through Tennessee Promise, 2015-2018 can be found online at

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