The Tennessee Board of Regents has approved a recommendation to increase tuition and fees at its institutions this year.
Among other actions, the Board approved the Finance and Business Operations Committee’s recommendation to increase hourly maintenance fees 5.8% at the 13 community colleges across the state, 8.5% at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, and ranging from 0 to 6.9% at the six TBR universities.
Because of an unexpected decline in state revenue collections, the outcomes-based funding formula used to allocate state appropriations was not fully funded this year. As a result, fee increase recommendations were higher than planned, a point expressed by TBR Chancellor John Morgan.
“Had the state been in a position to fund the improved outcomes, the recommended rate increases you see here would have ended up at roughly half of what they are,” said Morgan.
“We have continued to talk about the need for us as a state to have an opportunity to strategically look at how we’re going to finance the higher education aspirations that we have so clearly understood as necessary for the future of our state.
“There are basically four ways to finance the activity that we undertake: tuition that we ask students to pay, state appropriations, private fundraising, and efficiency—finding ways to do the business we do in a more productive fashion.
“What the right mix of those resources are needs to be carefully considered. What is realistic in terms of looking forward to a tuition policy not just on an ad hoc basis, but looking toward the future for financial planning to do what the state needs us to deliver?”
The two-day meeting at Tennessee State University also included a number of other agenda items, including information reports and committee updates.
Regents heard about programs to increase efficiency and effectiveness at TBR institutions. Tennessee’s Community Colleges reported on their efforts to establish common curricula for degree programs offered by a majority of the 13 community colleges, including programs like computer information technology, EMT/paramedic training, business management, and medical informatics, among others. The effort will ensure that courses are aligned across the system so students can transfer seamlessly from one institution to another and employers can expect more consistent workforce preparation. The colleges are also collaborating to align their business processes to operate more efficiently as a system.
Regents also received a report highlighting the number of degrees and certificates awarded by its universities and community colleges last year. TBR institutions awarded about 33,400 degrees and certificates statewide in 2013-14, almost a 28 percent increase from the number of awards in 2009-10.
The Tennessee Board of Regents is among the nation’s largest higher education systems, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions and providing quality post-secondary education to more than 200,000 students across the state.