Fall enrollment in Tennessee’s community colleges increased slightly compared to Fall 2022, ending a three-year decline during the pandemic

Tennessee Board of Regents quarterly meeting at Motlow State Community College

Enrollment in Tennessee’s community colleges rose one percent this fall over the fall semester of 2022, ending a three-year decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest enrollment report presented at the Tennessee Board of Regents quarterly meeting Thursday and Friday.

A total of 72,289 students are enrolled in the 13 community colleges this fall, compared to 71,804 in Fall 2022. Enrollment reached 88,946 in Fall 2019 but began a three-year annual decline in Fall 2020.

This fall’s growth is driven by an 11 percent increase in the number of high school students taking community college courses and earning college credit. Dual enrollment this fall is up 11 percent since Fall 2022, and high school students now account for about 26 percent of overall community college enrollment in the state, thanks in part to the state’s expansion of full tuition funding for up to five courses and heavily discounted tuition rates for five more courses. The expansion was approved and funded by the state legislature.

The Board of Regents governs Tennessee public community colleges and colleges of applied technology. The technical colleges’ enrollment data will be presented at the board’s December meeting. The fall quarterly meeting was held at Motlow State Community College near Tullahoma, with committees meetings Thursday, Sept. 21, and the full board session Friday.

Other action by the board included but was not limited to:

Approval of a new Associate of Applied Science degree program in distilled spirits at Motlow State Community College, subject to final approval by accreditors. The program, the first of its kind at a Tennessee community college, is designed to prepare students for careers in the state’s growing distilled spirits industry and will be implemented in partnership with Uncle Nearest and Jack Daniel’s.

Approval of the system’s legislative proposals for the next session of the state legislature, including requests for funding for cybersecurity and physical safety and security improvements, more student coaching, a student support network, and financial aid for workforce training. The board’s approval is the first step in the process, and the proposals will be submitted the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for its consideration. TBR items endorsed by the Commission are then forwarded to the Governor for his consideration in developing the Fiscal Year 2024-2025 budget recommendations to the General Assembly.  The legislature then ultimately determines which items are funded.  The proposals total approximately $28.7 million ($20.2 million in recurring funding and $8.5 million non-recurring.)

The complete committee and board agendas, an executive summary, and board materials are posted on the TBR website at  https://www.tbr.edu/board/september-2023-quarterly-board-meeting. The meetings were live-streamed and are archived on the TBR website at the meeting link above.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.