Community colleges and technical colleges see slight tuition, fee increases

The Tennessee Board of Regents approved tuition, fees, and preliminary budgets for the 2021-22 academic year at the state’s community and technical colleges on Friday.

The tuition increase is the first in two years and equates to $24 per trimester at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and $42 per semester at the community colleges for students taking full course loads. There is no increase in other mandatory fees (fees paid by all students at an institution, in addition to tuition) at the TCATs. Only two of the 13 community colleges sought and won approval for small $3.00 per semester fee hikes beyond the tuition increase, pushing the combined increase at Nashville State and Pellissippi State Community Colleges to $45 per semester. Both were approved in student referendums to increase funding for student activities.

In addition, the Board suspended campus-specific online course fees for the next academic year at the seven community colleges assessing them, saving students a total of $2.6 million and removing a financial barrier for students opting for online courses. The suspended fee varies from $10 per credit hour up to 25 percent of tuition, and the Board plans to review the fee again next year.

Tuition and fees were not increased last year, meaning that rates were unchanged since July 2019. Aside from last year’s stable rates, the increase is the smallest hike at the community colleges in more than 30 years and at the TCATs in eight years. Many students are able to attend free of tuition and mandatory fees through the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs and other federal and state financial aid. Tennessee Promise is for new high school graduates and Reconnect is for adults without a college degree or credential.

As a result of Friday’s action, combined tuition and mandatory fees at the TCATs for a full academic year of three trimesters will total $4,008, a 1.83 percent increase. Combined tuition and mandatory fees at the community colleges for an academic year of two semesters (for students taking 15 credit hours per semester) will range from $4,594 to $4,678, an increase ranging from 1.83 to 2 percent and averaging 1.87 percent.