Should I go to Western Carolina University or East Tennessee State University? Compare the two schools' costs, SAT, ACT, GPA, admissions criteria and outcomes to help you determine if WCU or ETSU is the better college for you.

WCU Comparison

Western Carolina University vs. East Tennessee State University comparison
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Location Cullowhee, NC Johnson City, TN
Setting Distant Town Small City
Students 11,639 14,317
Type Public 4 Year Public 4 Year
Religious Affiliation - -
Status Non-profit Non-profit


Tuition (In State) $1,000 $7,080
Tuition (Out of State) $5,000 $25,344
Room & Board $10,103 $8,472
Avg Net Price $14,456 $13,926
Avg Grant Aid $6,464 $8,899
% Receiving Grant Aid 72% 91%

Admission and Academics

Acceptance Rate 39.7% 87.1%
Avg High School GPA 3.67 3.3
Admissions Standards Moderate Average
Applicant Competition Low
ACT Range 20/25 20/27
SAT Range 1030/1210 970/1180
Application Deadline Mar 1, 2020


Graduation Rate 50% 44%
Median Earnings (After 10 years) $39,100 $40,000
Making Student Loan Payments 58% 50%
Median Student Loan Debt $22,010 $20,500
Median Loan Payment $227 $211
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Comparable Facts

  • East Tennessee State University is larger than than WCU based on total student enrollment (14,317 students vs. 11,639 students)

WCU vs. ETSU Cost Comparison

Which college is more expensive, WCU or ETSU?

  • East Tennessee State University is 608% more expensive to attend than WCU for in-state tuition ($7,080.00 vs. $1,000.00)
  • Out of state tuition is 406.9% higher at ETSU than Western Carolina University ($25,344.00 vs. $5,000.00)
  • The typical actual cost that students pay to attend (average net price) is less at East Tennessee State University than WCU ($13,926 vs. $14,456)
  • Living costs (room and board or off-campus housing budget) at East Tennessee State University are 19.3% lower than costs at Western Carolina University ($8,472 vs. $10,103)
  • More students receive financial grant aid at East Tennessee State University than Western Carolina University (91% vs. 72%)
  • The average total grant financial aid received by East Tennessee State University students is 37.7% larger than aid received Western Carolina University ($8,899 vs. $6,464)

WCU vs. ETSU Admissions Difficulty Comparison

Which college is harder to get into, WCU or ETSU? Average SAT and ACT scores plus acceptance rates offer good insight into the difficulty of admission between ETSU or WCU .

  • The average SAT score at East Tennessee State University (1068) is 36 points higher than at WCU (1032)
  • Incoming ETSU students have a 1 point higher average ACT score (23) than students at WCU (22)
  • ETSU has a higher acceptance rate (87.1%) than WCU (39.7%)

WCU vs. ETSU Graduation Outcomes Comparison

Which is better, WCU or ETSU? Graduation rate, salary and amount of student loan debt are indicators of a college which offers better outcomes for its graduates. Compare the following outcomes facts between ETSU and WCU.

  • The graduation rate at WCU is higher that East Tennessee State University (50% vs. 44%)
  • Graduates from East Tennessee State University earn on average $900 more per year than WCU graduates after ten years. ($40,000 vs. $39,100)
  • East Tennessee State University students graduate with a $1,510 lower median federal student loan debt than WCU graduates. ($20,500 vs. $22,010)
  • ETSU graduates are paying $16 less per month on federal student loans than WCU graduates. ($211 vs. $227)
  • More WCU graduates are actively paying back their federal student loan debt than former ETSU students, three years after graduation. (58% vs. 50%)

Sources: U.S. Department of Education https://nces.ed.gov IPEDS and College Scorecard https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/