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

WKU Comparison

Western Kentucky University vs. East Tennessee State University comparison
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Location Bowling Green, KY Johnson City, TN
Setting Small City Small City
Students 19,456 14,317
Type Public 4 Year Public 4 Year
Religious Affiliation - -
Status Non-profit Non-profit


Tuition (In State) $10,512 $7,080
Tuition (Out of State) $26,280 $25,344
Room & Board $8,343 $8,472
Avg Net Price $11,817 $13,926
Avg Grant Aid $7,295 $8,899
% Receiving Grant Aid 89% 91%

Admission and Academics

Acceptance Rate 97.2% 87.1%
Avg High School GPA 3.2 3.3
Admissions Standards Average Average
Applicant Competition
ACT Range 20/27 20/27
SAT Range 980/1190 970/1180
Application Deadline Aug 1, 2020


Graduation Rate 50% 44%
Median Earnings (After 10 years) $37,100 $40,000
Making Student Loan Payments 47% 50%
Median Student Loan Debt $24,250 $20,500
Median Loan Payment $250 $211
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Comparable Facts

  • Western Kentucky University is larger than than ETSU based on total student enrollment (19,456 students vs. 14,317 students)

WKU vs. ETSU Cost Comparison

Which college is more expensive, WKU or ETSU?

  • Western Kentucky University is 48.5% more expensive to attend than ETSU for in-state tuition ($10,512.00 vs. $7,080.00)
  • Out of state tuition is 3.7% higher at WKU than East Tennessee State University ($26,280.00 vs. $25,344.00)
  • The typical actual cost that students pay to attend (average net price) is less at Western Kentucky University than ETSU ($11,817 vs. $13,926)
  • Living costs (room and board or off-campus housing budget) at Western Kentucky University are 1.5% lower than costs at East Tennessee State University ($8,343 vs. $8,472)
  • More students receive financial grant aid at East Tennessee State University than Western Kentucky University (91% vs. 89%)
  • The average total grant financial aid received by East Tennessee State University students is 22% larger than aid received Western Kentucky University ($8,899 vs. $7,295)

WKU vs. ETSU Admissions Difficulty Comparison

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

  • The average SAT score at East Tennessee State University (1068) is 21 points higher than at WKU (1047)
  • Incoming WKU students have at the same average ACT score (23) as students at ETSU (23)
  • WKU has a higher acceptance rate (97.2%) than ETSU (87.1%)

WKU vs. ETSU Graduation Outcomes Comparison

Which is better, WKU 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 WKU.

  • The graduation rate at WKU is higher that East Tennessee State University (50% vs. 44%)
  • Graduates from East Tennessee State University earn on average $2,900 more per year than WKU graduates after ten years. ($40,000 vs. $37,100)
  • East Tennessee State University students graduate with a $3,750 lower median federal student loan debt than WKU graduates. ($20,500 vs. $24,250)
  • ETSU graduates are paying $39 less per month on federal student loans than WKU graduates. ($211 vs. $250)
  • More ETSU graduates are actively paying back their federal student loan debt than former WKU students, three years after graduation. (50% vs. 47%)

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