Community colleges see 2.6% increase


Students at Motlow College and all state community colleges will pay 2.6 percent more in tuition (also called maintenance fees) for the 2016-17 academic year as the result of Friday’s action by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).

Board officials noted that the increase is the lowest approved for undergraduate tuition since 1983.

The rates affect the six universities, 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology governed by TBR.

The action was taken during the TBR quarterly meeting at Northeast State Community College and was recommended by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

“It’s never easy to increase the price our students must pay, especially as we strive to encourage more people to enroll in our colleges and universities,” said David Gregory, acting TBR chancellor. “That said, we are grateful that we were able to keep the increases to very low rates — among the lowest increases in about 30 years. The rates range in general between 2.3 percent and 2.8 percent, and well within what had been recommended by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

“We appreciate Gov. (Bill) Haslam’s continued support for higher education and the General Assembly’s commitment to funding, allowing us to keep our rates so low.”

Students at Austin Peay State University will see a 2.8 percent maintenance fee/tuition increase; East Tennessee State University, 2.6 percent; Middle Tennessee State University, 2.6 percent; Tennessee State University, 2.4 percent; Tennessee Tech University, 2.8 percent; and University of Memphis, 2.3 percent.

While students at community colleges will pay 2.6 percent more in tuition, students at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) students will see a 2.8-percent increase.

In addition to maintenance fees/tuition, which are charged by the credit hour, all students pay a set of mandatory fees that are unique to each campus, such as athletics fees, student activities fees and health services fees.

When the increased maintenance fees/tuition are combined with approved mandatory fees, the total proposed price increases for in-state students taking a full-time course load of 12 credit hours will amount to less than $100 per year for most of the community colleges and TCATs, and between $144 and $222 for the six TBR universities:

Austin Peay State,  $188; East Tennessee State,  $188; Middle Tennessee State,  $180; Tennessee State,   $144; Tennessee Tech,  $192, and University of Memphis,  $222.

The board also explained in its news release how fees are calculated:

Maintenance, or tuition 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. Only 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.

Other actions by the board:

The board also approved a policy on firearms in response to recent revisions in Tennessee law allowing faculty and staff with valid concealed carry permits to carry a gun on campus.

The policy, which provides guidelines for how to apply the law on TBR campuses, covers community colleges and TCATs. Universities within the TBR system are developing individual policies.

In other action, a recommendation from Middle Tennessee State University to remove the name Forrest Hall from its ROTC building was also approved. However, in accordance with the recently passed Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016, the Tennessee Historical Commission would need to grant a waiver before the name change may take place.

In addition, the board approved criteria for the selection of its next chancellor and re-elected Regent Emily Reynolds as vice chair for 2016-17.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is among the nation’s largest higher education systems, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions.

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