Board of Regents approves tuition and fees for 2021-22, updates to strategic plan, new training programs

Students walking to class at Tennessee's community colleges

The Tennessee Board of Regents today approved tuition, fees and preliminary budgets for the 2021-22 academic year at the state’s community and technical colleges, updates to the systemwide strategic plan, and new training programs at the technical colleges.

The tuition increase is the first in two years and equates to $24 per trimester at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and $42 per semester at the community colleges for students taking 15-hour course loads. There is no increase in other mandatory fees (fees paid by all students at an institution, in addition to tuition) at the TCATs. And only two of the 13 community colleges sought and won approval for small $3 per semester fee hikes beyond the tuition increase, pushing the combined increase at Nashville State and Pellissippi State Community Colleges to $45 per semester. Both were approved in student referendums to increase funding for student activities. (More details below)

In addition, the Board suspended campus-specific online course fees for the next academic year at the seven community colleges assessing them, saving students a total of $2.6 million and removing a financial barrier for students opting for online courses. The suspended fee varies from $10 per credit hour up to 25 percent of tuition, and the Board plans to review the fee again next year.

Tuition and fees were not increased last year, meaning that rates were unchanged since July 2019. Aside from last year’s stable rates, the increase is the smallest hike at the community colleges in more than 30 years and at the TCATs in eight years. Many students are able to attend free of tuition and mandatory fees through the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs and other federal and state financial aid. Tennessee Promise is for new high school graduates and Reconnect is for adults without a college degree or credential. More information on those and other programs is available here.

The Tennessee Board of Regents governs the College System of Tennessee, comprising 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology. The full agenda, board materials and archived recordings of today’s quarterly board meeting and Thursday’s committee meetings are posted on the TBR website at

In other action today, the Board:

  • Approved criteria for the next president of Dyersburg State Community College. President Karen Bowyer has announced her plans to retire Dec. 31, 2021, after 37 years as the college’s president and nearly 50 years of higher education service. A search advisory committee will be appointed and announced soon to lead the search, and the goal is to have the next president appointed by the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition. When the search launches soon, full details will be posted online on the TBR president and executive searches webpage here.
  • Approved an update to the 2015-25 TBR Strategic Plan, presented as a new interactive document housed on the TBR website at The plan remains grounded in the state’s Drive to 55 goal to achieve 55 percent of adult Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025, and in TBR’s mission of Student Success and Workforce Development. The Strategic Plan establishes three key policy pillars – Open Access, Completion, and Community and Workforce Development – fulfilled by four cross-cutting themes: Strengthening Collaboration, Harnessing Innovation, Enhancing Institutional and Operational Capacity, and Fulfilling Equity. Together, these seven elements provide a framework for how TBR pursues its mission, as well as a roadmap for our colleges to build their institution-specific strategic plans.
  • Approved the systemwide major maintenance funding request for the fiscal year 2022-23 budget cycle totaling $52.5 million. The request will be submitted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for consideration for inclusion in the overall higher education capital maintenance request in the state’s budget process.
  • Approved the preliminary systemwide operating budget for fiscal year 2021-22 totaling $1.25 billion.
  • Approved 27 program proposals (including new diploma and certificate training programs, program revisions and program relocations) at the TCATs. Some of the new diploma programs include a new cosmetology program at TCAT Athens, a heavy equipment technology program at TCAT Crump, new welding technology programs at TCAT Hohenwald, new forestry and agriculture technology programs at TCAT Hohenwald and a new information technology program at TCAT Murfreesboro.
  • Named the Faculty Office Building at Northeast State Community College “Lana Hamilton Hall” in honor of Dr. Allana Hamilton, who passed away earlier this year after more than 30 years of service at Northeast and the TBR system. Dr. Hamilton spent most of her career at Northeast, rising from adjunct professor to vice president for academic affairs, before being appointed president of Jackson State Community College in 2017 and later as TBR vice chancellor for academic affairs.
  • Approved new and revised policies and rules, including contested case procedures, parking and traffic rules, student conduct and disciplinary sanctions, and Title IX compliance.
  • Approved resolutions of appreciation honoring Faculty Regent Kenneth Goldsmith and Student Regent William McElyea, whose terms on the Board of Regents are expiring.
  • Re-elected Regent Emily J. Reynolds to another year as the board’s presiding vice chair.
  • Approved systemwide compensation plans.
  • Approved faculty tenure and promotion recommendations.
  • Approved executive incentive recommendations.
  • Approved president emeritus contracts.

As a result of today’s action, combined tuition and mandatory fees at the TCATs for a full academic year of three trimesters will total $4,008, a 1.83 percent increase. Combined tuition and mandatory fees at the community colleges for an academic year of two semesters (for students taking 15 credit hours per semester) will range from $4,594 to $4,678, an increase ranging from 1.83 to 2 percent and averaging 1.87 percent.

The Board also approved Pellissippi State’s request to reduce the specialized course fee for Culinary Arts from $750 per credit hour to $150, and Volunteer State’s request to eliminate its $25 per credit hour specialized course fee for Fire Science. 

The Board’s goal is always to address and balance student affordability while making sure the institutions have the resources they need to provide the level of programs and services that students need and expect.


The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Meeting/Event Information
June 2021 - Quarterly Meeting