The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Committee on Finance and Business Operations recommended increases in tuition/maintenance fees for the state's community colleges and some universities.
The TBR system includes six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 27 technology centers, providing programs to more than 200,000 students across the state. It does not govern the University of Tennessee instituions.
A spokesperson for the TBR committee said that the recommended increases "are lower than recent years thanks to improved state funding."
The committee is recommending increases of 3 percent for each of the 13 community colleges across the state and ranging from 1.4 to 6 percent for the six TBR universities. Students at the Tennessee Technology Centers will not see a maintenance fee increase.
The committee will forward the proposed rates to the full Board of Regents, which will vote on the recommendations at its quarterly meeting June 21. The rate recommendations are within the maintenance fee guidance adopted by the Tennessee Higher Education Committee last fall.
If approved by the Board, students at Tennessee State University will see a 1.4 percent maintenance fee/tuition increase, Austin Peay State University – 3 percent, East Tennessee State University – 4.6 percent, Middle Tennessee State University – 5.7 percent, and 6 percent at both Tennessee Tech University and University of Memphis.
When combined with mandatory fees (unique to each campus, including fees for athletics, student activities, etc.) already approved, the proposed price increases would amount to about $102 per year for community college students taking 15 credit hours and range from $72 per year at TSU to $546 at ETSU.
Maintenance fees are the charges based on credit hours for in-state students. For example, a student pays a flat rate for the first 12 hours of class credits and a discounted rate for any additional hours. Out-of-state students are required to pay tuition in addition to maintenance fees. Mandatory fees vary by institution, fund specified programs, and are paid by all students regardless of the number of hours they take.
The increased maintenance fees/tuition are needed to fund the portion of the mandated 1.5 percent salary increase for all state employees that was not funded through state appropriations and inflation cost increases in utilities and insurance. Most institutions also requested additional increases to fund efforts to increase student success.
For example, APSU plans to support a program called Inside Track, which uses data-informed academic coaching to impact student persistence. MTSU will increase tenured and tenure-track faculty to ensure academic program quality. And TTU will implement a Freshman Flight Path Program to increase the retention of first-year students. Community colleges will implement student retention efforts and a state-wide marketing plan to promote the value of Tennessee’s community colleges.
In previous years, state funding for higher education declined by about 30 percent, including a more than 2 percent base operating budget reduction last year.
The Tennessee Board of Regents is among the nation’s largest higher education systems, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions.