Regents’ finance panel recommends minimal Tennessee tuition hikes



The finance committee of the Tennessee Board of Regents on Thursday recommended tuition increases at the state’s colleges and universities that are among the lowest on average in nearly 20 years.

The committee recommended an increase of 3.4 percent at its 13 community colleges, up to 3.9 percent at its six universities and 4 percent at its 27 colleges of applied technology. Based on the recommendations, a student at Austin Peay State University, for example, would pay an additional $144 a year.

The last time tuition increases were this low was 1996.

The full board will vote on the committee’s recommendation Friday.

In comparison, last year the board approved tuition increases of 5.8 percent at its community colleges, up to 6.9 percent at its universities and 8.5 percent at its TCATs.

Last fall, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission recommended tuition increases between 0 and 4 percent if dollars were provided in the state budget this year for the higher education funding formula, which allocates funds based on a variety of metrics to encourage student success through outcomes, like graduation and retention.

Higher education officials had also challenged Gov. Bill Haslam and the state Legislature to put more money toward higher education.

The governor and lawmakers responded by investing $25 million in the funding formula, and $260 million for capital projects.

Haslam said he’s pleased to see the low tuition recommendations.

“That was our hope, and our expectation as well,” he said.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said he’s optimistic that tuition increases — if any are needed — will remain low.

“I think the state will continue to fund the … formula if there’s any way that they can,” he said.

William Sannella, a pre-engineering student at Columbia State Community College, said minimal tuition costs means lower student debt.

“Just to not have that debt is a benefit to me, and anybody,” said the 22-year-old. “It’s awesome.”