No tuition increase for Tennessee Tech

President Phil Oldham gives his report during the quarterly meeting of Tech's Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

COOKEVILLE – Tuition and fees at Tennessee Tech will not increase for returning students for the upcoming academic year. 

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees approved the university’s budget for 2020-2021, which calls for no increase in tuition, mandatory and non-mandatory fees.

“No increase in tuition and fees for continuing students, despite our challenges, is a positive statement to our students,” Tech President Phil Oldham said.

Current Tech students will continue under the per credit tuition and fee model, with new students – either incoming freshmen or transfer students – coming under Tech’s new flat-rate tuition model, which was approved at the board’s March 2020 meeting. 

The flat-rate provides a single price for full-time tuition. This will let students take 12 credit hours or more per semester at the same flat rate. 

Along with making it easier to budget for college, the change should also help more students graduate on time, as research has shown that students who take 15 credit hours or more tend to be more successful in their classes and are more likely to graduate on time in four years.

The flat-rate tuition for full-time students, $5,169 per semester, covers any number of credit hours above. Part-time students, who are undergraduates taking 11 or fewer credit hours a semester, will continue to pay on a per credit hour basis.

This is a key component of Tech’s desire to make college costs as affordable and transparent as possible so students and families can better predict what college costs and better prepare. 

Other parts of this simplified pricing initiative include reduced and flat out-of-state tuition; a simplified mandatory fee structure; and the new Tech Promise scholarship.

As a last-dollar scholarship, Tech Promise covers any outstanding tuition and mandatory fees not met by other scholarships or grants for eligible students. A full story about the Tech Promise is at

New Academic Programs

Over the last academic year, Tech added more than 30 new academic programs in colleges across campus, according to Provost Lori Mann Bruce. The new offerings include a variety of new degrees, majors, minors, concentrations and certificates. Some are among the first such programs in the state or nation.

Tech is the first university in Tennessee to be approved by the state Department of Education to offer a graduate-level certificate and teacher licensure endorsement for computer science. Tech’s College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Department of Computer Science developed the program.

The new major is Business Information Technology, which grew from a concentration in the College of Business Department of Decision Sciences and Management. The establishment of the major program is to help provide clarity for students, as well as position them for career success by providing a degree in the area.

Tech will also offer a Master of Science in Community Health and Nutrition in the School of Human Ecology, one of the first such programs in the nation. This new program has been selected by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics as a demonstration program for its new education model, which leads to students being able to earn a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist certification along with their master’s degree. 

The program is designed to provide early-career nutrition and dietetics professionals with advanced content knowledge, along with the skills and tools to deliver high-quality nutrition services to a variety of populations, with a focus on rural community health.

The program will be delivered online, and is the first graduate program in the School of Human Ecology. 

Pending final approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Community Health and Nutrition program will start enrolling students this fall.

In other business

The board heard from Ismail Fidan, professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, and students. Fidan recruited a workforce of graduate and undergraduate students and led them in creating several hundred facemasks and shields for healthcare workers and first responders at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, using the latest 3D printing technology. The board also heard from students working on Tech’s grand challenge, Rural Reimagined, which was created by the university to follow Gov. Bill Lee’s directive to accelerate service to rural communities. 

Daniel Hines, a senior in cellular and molecular biology, was selected as the new student trustee, replacing Mason Hilliard. Hines was part of the winning team in this year’s Eagle Works competition and has served in Tech’s Student Government Association since arriving on campus in 2017. He currently serves as a President’s Ambassador and a College of Arts and Sciences Student Ambassador.

The board approved tenure for eight faculty members and learned of 15 faculty promotions.

Oldham provided an update on sponsored research activities for 2019-2020. He said that university faculty members have submitted a record number of research proposals to outside funding agencies, a 15% increase over last year. He also shared that the university was “right at $20 million in awards” for 2019-2020. With a week left in the fiscal year, Oldham said it is still possible to reach last year’s record funding “in spite of the challenges we faced this year, despite the shutdown and the interruption from the pandemic.” 

The board approved the naming of the university’s new student recreation center as the Marc L. Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center to honor the recently retired Marc Burnett, former vice president for Student Affairs. A full story on the naming is at

Materials from today’s meeting and the webcast of the full board meeting are available at the board’s website,

The board’s next meeting is Sept. 29, 2020.

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