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TN's Private Colleges and Universities Keep Tuition Affordable




CONTACT: Claude Pressnell (615) 242-6400, ext. 201

Tennessee’s Private Colleges and Universities

Keep Tuition Affordable

Nashville, TN— Students 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 2018-19 will increase by an average of 2.98%; one of the lowest such increaes in over a decade. 

Campus leaders indicate that a range of factors are driving tuition increases including employee health care benefits, implementation of federal regulations, and ensuring that facilities and programs meet the changing needs of students.

TICUA campuses 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 missions to make college affordable for all qualified students seeking admission.

“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.”

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.

Here are some examples of available student aid programs that make college more affordable for Tennessee students:

  • Nearly 40% of all Tennessee undergraduate students attending TICUA institutions this past year benefited from the nearly $60 million from the federal Pell Grant.  The Pell is targeted to support students from low-income families.
  • The State’s need-based aid program, (Tennessee Student Assistance Award), currently provides over $30 million to 8,000 low-income students attending TICUA member institutions.
  • Thousands of TICUA member institution students also benefit from the State’s HOPE lottery scholarship program. In the 2017-18 academic year, over 12,500 students attending private colleges and universities received more than $52 million in scholarship aid. 

Remarkably, only 56% of graduating seniors at Tennessee’s private, non-profit institutions took out a loan for their degree. During the academic year 2015-16, graduating seniors at TICUA member institutions borrowed on average about $28,410 for their bachelor’s degree.  This is only about $2,000 more than if they had attended a Tennessee public university and its less than the cost of a new car.

“It is important to recognize that nearly every student attending a TICUA member campus receives some form of financial aid,” said Pressnell. “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 2018-19, the average published tuition and fees for undergraduate students attending a TICUA member campus will be $26,572 per year. This is considerably lower than the national average. Last year (academic year 2017-18), average tuition at Tennessee’s private, non-profit, four-year institutions was 25% 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 2017, TICUA member colleges and universities throughout the State enrolled over 81,000 students and employed over 37,000 faculty and staff.  For more information about TICUA, please visit our website at www.ticua.org