Board of Regents holds tuition and fees stable for students at Tennessee’s public community and technical colleges
Published 12:43 pm Monday, June 20, 2022
COLUMBIA — Students will not face a tuition or fee increase at Tennessee’s public community and technical colleges for the upcoming academic year after the Tennessee Board of Regents voted Friday to keep rates stable for the second time in three years.
In addition, the Board suspended campus-specific online course fees for the second consecutive year, saving students about $2.6 million collectively in the upcoming year and removing a financial barrier for students taking online courses through their colleges. The Board of Regents, which governs the state’s public community colleges and colleges of applied technology, held its June quarterly meeting Thursday and Friday, hosted by Columbia State Community College.
TBR staff said that the major increase in state funding for public higher education approved this year, extended federal pandemic funding for another year, and savings and efficiencies achieved by the colleges enabled the Board to keep tuition and fees stable for another year despite rising inflation.
“We’re grateful to Governor Lee and members of the Tennessee General Assembly for supporting Tennessee students and their families with a historic increase in state funding for higher education. The Board’s approval today to keep tuition and fees unchanged for another year is a direct result of that, the continued federal assistance, and the hard work by our colleges to hold costs down,” said Chancellor Flora W. Tydings.
Two years ago, the Board of Regents also voted no increase in tuition and fees for the 2020-21 academic year in recognition of the challenges facing students during the pandemic, which kept rates stable from July 2019 through June 2021. Last year, the Board approved the smallest tuition increase, 1.83 percent, in 30 years at the community colleges for the 2021-22 academic year now ending — but did not raise any other mandatory fees and suspended the campus-specific online course fee for the year. It extended that suspension through June 2023.
With Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Reconnect and other state and federal financial aid programs, eligible students may attend the state’s public community and technical colleges free of tuition and mandatory fees. Tennessee Promise is for new high school graduates; Reconnect is for adults 23 and up who have not already earned college degrees or other college-level credentials.
In other action, the Board of Regents approved the system’s capital outlay budget request for fiscal year 2023-24 — three projects totaling $124 million that will now be forwarded to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) for the next phase in the budget process. Projects are not finally approved until they are considered and funded by the state legislature.
All three projects are proposed to help the colleges meet increased workforce development needs in their regions. They are:
• A new Carter County Higher Education Center, for joint use by Northeast State Community College and Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Elizabethton to expand career and technical education programs. The current proposal is for extensive renovation of two existing buildings that Northeast has been leasing and are now being donated to the school by Carter County. Projected cost is $40 million.
• A new Workforce Development Center at Jackson State Community College that will also house classes by TCAT Jackson. New construction totaling $34.6 million.
• A new Henry County Higher Education Center for TCAT Paris. New construction totaling $49.8 million.
The Board also approved a $48.7 million capital maintenance funding request, which also now goes to THEC for its review in the next step of the budget process. The request would fund 49 major maintenance projects across the system.
The Board re-elected Regent Emily J. Reynolds to another one-year term as the Board’s vice chair, its presiding officer. She has served as a Board member since 2010.
The Board also approved systemwide proposed operating budgets for fiscal year 2022-23 totaling $1.3 billion, and the final estimated budgets for fiscal year 2021-22 totaling $1.43 billion.
Board members and staff also observed the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Board of Regents and its system of colleges in 1972.
Governor Bill Lee, who could not attend, thanked the Board via a pre-recorded video for 50 years of service to Tennesseans. “The Tennessee Board of Regents plays an important role in equipping a highly skilled workforce and preparing students for life beyond the classroom… It’s an honor to join you in celebrating this important milestone in our state’s history, and I appreciate your continued partnership to ensure Tennessee students have opportunities to thrive,” the governor said.
The Board and its committee meetings were live-streamed and are archived on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/board/june-2022-quarterly-board-meeting. The complete agendas and materials for the meetings are also posted at: https://www.tbr.edu/board/june-2022-quarterly-board-meeting.