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Tennessee's Private Colleges and Universities Strive to Keep Tuition Low


Nashville, TN— Although undergraduate students attending a private four-year college or university in Tennessee will see a modest increase in tuition and fees next year, they will continue to pay thousands of dollars less than students attending private, non-profit, four-year colleges in most other states. Average undergraduate tuition and fees for 2012-13 at the member colleges of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) will increase by 4.8%. 


Campus leaders indicate that a range of factors are driving tuition increases including employee salary and benefits, implementation of federal regulations, and ensuring that facilities and programs meet the changing needs of students. Institutions also have committed to increase the amount of their budgets dedicated to student aid to ensure that a private college education remains affordable.


“TICUA institutions are steadfast in their commitment to educational opportunity and choice,” said Dr. Betty Sue McGarvey, Chair of TICUA and President of Baptist College of Health Sciences. “Although our institutions are affordable, we strive to provide financial aid that makes it possible for students to attend the college or university that best fits their individual needs.”


Approximately 90% of first-time, full-time students attending private colleges and universities in the State receive some form of financial support. The majority (70%) of this aid comes directly from the 34 college and university members of TICUA. The state of Tennessee provides another 16% and the federal government the remaining 14% of the aid.


“It is important to recognize that most every student attending a TICUA member campus receives some form of financial aid either from the state or federal government or, more typically, directly from the institution,” said Dr. Claude Pressnell, President of TICUA. “When you combine institutional, state, and federal aid, the actual price paid by students can be substantially lower than the published price.”


For academic year 2012-13, the average published tuition and fees, not including room and board, for undergraduate students attending a TICUA member private, non- profit, four-year institution in Tennessee will be $21,916 per year. This is expected to be considerably lower than the national average. Last year (academic year 2011-12), average tuition at Tennessee’s private, non-profit, four-year institutions was 27% less than the national average. After considering the contribution of financial aid, many students ultimately pay significantly less than the either the national or southern regional averages.


Through their commitment to provide affordable access to higher education, TICUA institutions serve many low-income students. Historically, the median family income of Tennessee students attending private, non-profit, four-year colleges and universities is less than those attending Tennessee’s four-year public colleges or universities, according to U.S. Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).  One-third of all undergraduate students attending TICUA institutions and nearly half of undergraduates from Tennessee receive the federal Pell Grant, targeted to support students from low-income families.


Thousands of TICUA students also benefit from the State’s education lottery program. In the 2011-12 academic year, over 13,000 students attending private colleges and universities participated in the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS) award program, which provided more than $54 million in grant aid to students at private colleges and universities.  This scholarship program, based on academic performance, awards $4,000 per year to in-state students attending any four-year institution in Tennessee. 


In fall 2012, TICUA member colleges and universities throughout the State enrolled more than 76,000 students.  TICUA membership includes 31 four-year colleges and universities and 3 professional colleges.


TICUA engages Tennessee's private, non-profit colleges and universities to work collaboratively in areas of public policy, cost containment, and professional development to serve better the State and its citizens.  For more information about TICUA, please visit our website at www.ticua.org