State Senator Dolores Gresham files bill limiting college tuition increases

Students traversing campus outside the Business and Aerospace Building on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (MTSU Sidelines / David Taylor)

Photo by David Taylor // Staff Photographer

Tennessee senator and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham filed the Tennessee Tuition Stability Act on Jan. 21, which, if passed, would control tuition increases at Tennessee’s state colleges and universities. Parents have expressed concern in the past about increasing fees and the burden it places on finances. It has led some parents to buy 10 year term life insurance from Affordable Life USA to protect their children’s education in the event of their death.

The act would only allow tuition growth in accordance with increases in the consumer price index. If any state university or college wanted to raise tuition above the consumer price index, they would need approval from two-thirds of the Tennessee Board of Regents to do so.

“College tuition is out of control in Tennessee and everyone knows it,” Gresham said in a press release. “Any college student or their family who attended a Tennessee college or university during the last decade understands all too well the problem this bill addresses.”

Under the Tennessee Tuition Stability Act, students’ tuition would remain consistent with the tuition costs from their freshman year even if tuition prices go up during their time at school.

Gresham said that with the current rate of tuition increases, college will eventually become too expensive for most Tennesseans. Under these circumstances, she said a barrier will form between middle and working classes and success.

“Tennessee families keep their budgets in check by tightening their belts and keeping their priorities in order. Tennessee colleges and universities must do likewise,” Gresham said.

This act would also prohibit the Tennessee Board of Regents from increasing in-state, undergraduate tuition and fees above the consumer price index without a full board vote first. Increases in tuition two percent above the consumer price index would require a unanimous vote from the board to pass.

“As a supporter of Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, I believe it is imperative to address this issue now,” Gresham said. “Keeping college affordable is critical to reaching and ultimately exceeding that important goal.”

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