The Tennessee Board of Regents today set tuition and fees for the 2019-20 academic year and approved a list of new campus building projects that will move to the next step in the state’s funding process for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Tuition and mandatory fees combined average a 2.45 increase from last year – the lowest percentage increase since 1991 at Tennessee’s community colleges and since 2013 at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs). It is the third consecutive year in which combined tuition and fee increases are less than 3 percent.
In other action during its quarterly meeting, held at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, the Board of Regents approved new academic, career and technical programs at the colleges; heard an update on the community colleges’ participation in Achieving the Dream; and approved operating budgets for the next year, faculty tenure and promotions, compensation plans, college president emeritus contracts and three building namings.
Achieving the Dream is a national network for evidence-based improvement focused on the success of all students, and all 13 community colleges have joined, starting in 2015. Last year, eight Tennessee community colleges were accepted into the network – which now includes 277 colleges in 44 states, sharing ideas and practices – as part of a systemwide commitment to student success, closing academic achievement gaps and improving graduation rates. After a thorough review of existing practices, colleges develop their own student success plans.
The five proposed building projects recommended by the board are:
The board’s approval is the first of several steps and there is no guarantee that all will be funded next year. They will be submitted – along with $43.7 million in major maintenance projects recommended across the TBR system – to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for review with others proposed by the state’s universities. The commission will submit its overall capital outlay recommendations to state budget officials for consideration for the governor’s overall state budget proposal for fiscal year 2020-21, which will go to the state legislature early next year for its review and final action.
The tuition rates approved today go into effect with the upcoming fall semester and will pay for some of the colleges’ increased operating costs, their share of a 2 percent compensation increase approved by the state legislature, and, at the community colleges, a special initiative to increase pay for adjunct (part-time) faculty, which has not been increased in TBR policy since 1998.
In separate action, the board increased the adjunct faculty pay ranges – from the current range of $500 to $700 per credit hour they teach to a new range of $700-$850 at the community colleges and from the current range of $20-$30 per clock hour to $30-$40 at the TCATs.
For an academic year (two semesters at community colleges, three trimesters at TCATs), tuition and mandatory fees for Tennessee residents attending full time will range from $4,504 to $4,588 at the community colleges – a $109 increase – and $3,937 at the TCATs – a $94 increase. Many students attend free of tuition and mandatory fees through the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs and other state and federal financial assistance.
The figures above include a $3.50 per semester increase in technology access fees at community colleges and an about $6 increase per trimester at TCATs – the first technology access fee hike since 2003 and the only mandatory fee increase. It will pay for technology cost increases, the significant increase in the use of technology on campus and investments in cyber security.
The board’s Finance and Business Operations Committee recommended the tuition and fee rates on June 4, and encouraged public comment on the proposals over the 16 days leading up to the full board’s consideration today. The board created and publicized a link on the TBR website that opened immediately after the committee meeting. Posted comments were available to board members for review.
The public comment period followed procedures established by the Tuition Transparency and Accountability Act, approved by the state legislature in 2018, although the act applies only to the state’s public university boards and not TBR.
Student tuition and fees will comprise 34 percent of overall operating revenue at community colleges and 22 percent TCATs during the next academic year. State appropriations provide 32 percent of operating revenue at the community colleges and 41 percent at TCATs. Restricted funding, including federal funding, grants, contributions, endowment income, bookstore and cafeteria revenue, comprise the remainder.
New degree programs approved by the board include a Water Quality Technology program at Pellissippi State Community College, whose graduates will earn an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S) degree in preparation for state certification for water and wastewater system operators. The program is the first of its kind in the system and will fill a strong demand for technicians in the field. It will begin enrolling students this fall and is partially funded by a National Science Foundation grant until it becomes self-sustaining.
The board approved a total of 25 new career and technical training programs to be delivered at 15 separate TCAT locations across the state. The programs enable the colleges to be more responsive to the needs of students, businesses and industries.
The board approved requests from three colleges to name buildings on their campuses after benefactors of the colleges:
The board also recognized the Richard Donner family of Dyersburg as recipients of the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy. The family was nominated by Dyersburg State Community College in recognition of family members’ contributions to the college over many years. The award was presented during a June 11 ceremony at the college.
The board re-elected Regent Emily J. Reynolds of Nashville as the board’s vice chair. (By statute, the governor is chair of the Board of Regents.)
Regents also thanked and honored outgoing Regent William Summons of Memphis for his two years of service as the faculty representative and Regent Juan Carlos Gonzalez Roman of Knoxville for his year of service as the student representative. Summons is the faculty of Southwest Tennessee Community College and Roman graduated last month from Pellissippi State Community College and is enrolled this fall at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.
Webcasts of today’s board meeting and Thursday’s board committee meetings are archived, along with full, detailed agendas and board materials -- including tuition and fee rates – on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/board/june-quarterly-board-meeting-0.
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.