Achieving the Dream Reform Network Continues to Grow with Addition of Jackson State Community College

Jackson State Community College is one of 16 community and technical colleges selected, this year, into the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. Faculty, staff, and administrators from JSCC will participate in the 2015 Achieving the Dream Kickoff Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“We realize that we are the only hope for many students in West Tennessee, especially first-generation, low-income, and non-traditional students who find their way to our door,” states Dr. Bruce Blanding, JSCC president. “It is our responsibility and moral obligation to help them navigate the maze that college life can present to them by removing barriers and making that maze a straight line. We enter our Achieving the Dream partnership with enthusiasm and optimism. Working together, we hope to develop a culture in which student learning and success is the number one priority.”

“We are delighted to welcome Jackson State Community College into the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network and congratulate them for taking this next step in operationalizing their commitment to improving student outcomes,” said Achieving the Dream Vice President for Community College Relations Cindy Lenhart.

At the 2015 Kickoff Institute June 23 – June 25, Jackson State Community College will work in teams with coaches to increase its data analytic capacity to inform decision-making; understand how guided pathways can improve the student experience; identify opportunities to improve teaching and learning; and understand equity challenges on campus.

JSCC is joining a network of over 200 colleges that are working to preserve access and assure that their students, especially low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity.

“To become an Achieving the Dream College, applicants must demonstrate an institution-wide commitment to spend at least three years working with Achieving the Dream experts to implement reforms designed to improve student success and completion rates on their campuses. Such a huge commitment to fundamentally rethink educational and student support is unusual and should be applauded because their work will result in a much larger, better educated, and productive workforce,” said Achieving the Dream President and CEO William E. Trueheart.

Introducing the 2015 Cohort Colleges:

TBR Sets New Tuition, Fee Rates for Colleges and Universities

The Tennessee Board of Regents met June 19 and approved increases in tuition and fees that are among the lowest on average since 1996.

The action raises hourly maintenance fees/tuition an average of 3.3 percent across the six TBR universities, 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

Last fall the Tennessee Higher Education Commission recommended tuition increases between 0 and 4 percent if dollars were provided in the state budget this year for the higher education funding formula that allocates funds based on a variety of metrics to encourage student success through outcomes, like graduation and retention. The outcomes in the formula were funded.

As a result, students at Austin Peay State University will see a 2.4 percent maintenance fee/tuition increase, East Tennessee State University – 3 percent, Middle Tennessee State University – 3.1 percent, Tennessee State University – 2.8 percent, Tennessee Tech University – 10.9 percent (TTU is also reducing its mandatory fees this year, so the result is actually a 3.9 percent total revenue increase), and University of Memphis – 3.7 percent.

Students at community colleges will pay 3.4 percent more for maintenance fees, and TCAT students will see a 4 percent increase.

In addition to maintenance fees/tuition, which are charged by the credit hour, all students pay a set of mandatory fees that are unique to each campus, like athletics fees, student activities fees, health services fees, etc. Mandatory fees were approved in March, but one additional change at ETSU was approved today as well. ETSU will add a $290 student-approved mandatory fee to fund renovations to its Culp University Center.

When the increased maintenance fees/tuition are combined with the previously approved mandatory fees, the total proposed price increases for in-state students taking a full-time course load of 12 credit hours would amount to the following per year:

APSU $333
ETSU $486
MTSU $204
TSU $181
TTU $332
UoM $284
CCs $120
TCATs $129/trimester

Statement from TBR Chancellor John Morgan:

“We are pleased that the tuition levels are the lowest they have been in decades, but we do understand that every time fees are raised, someone may be priced out of an opportunity to attend one of our institutions.”

“Tennessee is fortunate to have state leaders who recognize the integral connection between an educated workforce with affordable access to post-secondary education and the economic growth of our state. Our Hope lottery scholarship, the Tennessee Promise last-dollar scholarship and the Tennessee Reconnect grant, along with other state and federal aid programs, make higher education a more realistic option for more people today than ever before, but for those who must cover the full cost of attendance, any increase is unfortunate.”

“Our institutions are more efficient now than ever, and they continue to focus their resources on ways that support student success to help more complete their credentials faster and more effectively.”

“We hope that in the coming years our state leaders will continue to find a way to make higher education a funding priority.”

How fees are calculated:

Maintenance fees (often referred to as “tuition”) are the charges based on credit hours for in-state students. For example, a student pays a flat rate for the first 12 hours of class credits and a discounted rate for any additional hours. Only out-of-state students are required to pay tuition in addition to maintenance fees. Mandatory fees vary by institution, fund specified programs, and are paid by all students regardless of the number of hours they take.

A list of increases for 2015-16 and historical tuition data is available at

Other actions at today’s meeting:

In other business, the Board approved committee actions authorizing new degree programs at ETSU, Northeast State Community College and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. ETSU will add a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy studies, a doctor of education degree in global sport leadership, and several graduate-level certificates to address the changing field of nursing. Northeast State Community College will offer a new associate of applied science degree in entertainment technology. And the TCATs will offer 15 new programs at locations across the state.

The Board heard a report on efforts TBR institutions are making to increase engagement with business and industry. Highlighted were programs the TCATs are initiating in response to the state’s Labor and Education Alignment Program grants, the Chattanooga State Community College hospitality and tourism industry management program, and the MTSU concrete industry management program.

Alexander Leads Roundtable Discussions at JSCC

Tennessee senator and former governor Lamar Alexander held roundtable discussions on the JSCC campus Friday, May 29. The senator is currently heading up legislation that will update and streamline two current educational initiatives: No Child Left Behind and FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Student Aid).

The roundtable discussion had panels that were made up of local school officials and board members as well as state and local government officials. Those in attendance for the discussions included area parents, students and educators. The primary purpose of this forum was to give the most impacted parties by the proposed legislation an opportunity to hear first hand what is being proposed and to also give Alexander a true sounding board for these ideas and how they are perceived in the field.

The first topic entailed Alexander’s recommended changes to No Child Left Behind. The senator is proposing legislation that would revamp President Bush’s legislation, put an end to the common core discussion and rename the initiative as the Every Child Achieves Act. In essence, the act would give states the option of establishing educational standards for their own unique situations. The act would not abolish federal testing requirements, but it would give states the ability to devise a plan about how those standards are met.

For the second topic of discussion, Alexander explained how the FAFSA application is currently keeping a lot of students from receiving aid for which they are qualified and ultimately keeping a number of students from higher education. The former governor wants to greatly simplify the application and has even suggested that the form be reduced to two questions.

At the community college level, there are many first generation students that make up the population. Dr. Bruce Blanding, JSCC president, notes that the FAFSA application often becomes a roadblock to admission. “Many of the forms and procedures for matriculating into college are something that so many of us see as standard business for those in higher education. What we have to understand is that a lot of these processes and paperwork are completely alien to many first generation students. We lose a lot of them before they can even get started.”

Blanding also noted that Governor Haslam’s Tennessee Promise initiative will make it necessary to simplify many of these processes so that the economic goal of a well-educated workforce can be met. FAFSA is one of those critical points that may be keeping many students from getting a foot in the door.