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News & Press: News Release

Tennessee’s Private Colleges and Universities Keep Tuition Affordable

Thursday, May 23, 2019  
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Tennessee’s Private Colleges and Universities

Keep Tuition Affordable

Nashville, TNStudents attending Tennessee’s private non-profit colleges and universities will continue to pay thousands of dollars less than students attending similar institutions in other states.  Members of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA), just announced a modest increase in tuition and fees next year. Undergraduate tuition and fees for 2019-20 will increase by an average of 3.55%; among the lowest over the past decade.

“TICUA institutions are steadfast in their commitment to educational opportunity and choice,” said Dr. Claude Pressnell, President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. “Our institutions are far more affordable than most think. Our members provide generous financial aid, making it possible for students to attend the college or university that best fits their individual needs.”

This past month the Tennessee General Assembly provided $64 million in new funds for the State’s public colleges and universities.  This additional funding enabled the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to keep the public tuition increase capped at 2.5%. The nominal increases among Tennessee’s private and public colleges and universities allow Tennessee to remain a low-tuition and low-student loan state.

While TICUA campuses face the rising cost of employee benefits, implementation of federal regulations and make investments to meet the changing needs of students, they are devoted to providing more student financial aid for qualified students to ensure that a private college education remains affordable. The increase in student aid is consistent with their mission to make college affordable for all qualified students seeking admission.

“Nearly every student attending a TICUA member campus receives some form of financial aid,” said Pressnell. “Because the State-scholarship dollars follow the student, Tennesseans are able to use HOPE, Promise and Reconnect scholarships to attend whichever institution best fits their needs, including many TICUA institutions. So when you combine institutional, state, and federal aid, the actual price paid by students can be substantially lower than the published price.”

Key facts about TICUA institutions and student aid:

  • Over 90% of first-time, full-time students attending a TICUA campus receive some form of financial support.

  • The majority (80%) of this aid comes directly from the campuses. The State of Tennessee provides another 10% and the federal government the remaining 10% of the aid.

  • Each year, thousands of Tennesseans attending TICUA member institutions also benefit from State scholarship aid programs, including the HOPE scholarship, Tennessee Promise and Reconnect and need-based Tennessee Student Assistance Award.

  • Only 56% of graduating seniors at Tennessee’s private, non-profit institutions took out a loan for their degree.

  • During the academic year 2016-17, graduating seniors at TICUA member institutions borrowed on average about $28,208 for their bachelor’s degree.  This is only about $4,000 more than if they had attended a Tennessee public university

For academic year 2019-20, the average published tuition and fees for undergraduate students attending a TICUA member campus will be $27,866 per year. This is considerably lower than the national average. Last year (academic year 2018-19), average tuition at Tennessee’s private, non-profit, four-year institutions was 26% less than the national average.


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.  TICUA membership includes 31 four-year colleges and universities and 3 professional colleges. In fall 2018, TICUA member colleges and universities throughout the State enrolled over 80,000 students and employed over 37,000 faculty and staff.  For more information about TICUA, please visit our website at