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Membership and Subscriptions : G-080

Policy/Guideline Area

General Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges, System Office


The following guideline explains the limitations on membership dues and subscriptions paid for from State funds. Campus libraries are exempt from the guideline in its entirety.


  • Membership Dues or Subscriptions - are any expenditure from state funds by an institution which entitle subscription of material or membership, associate membership, or participation in activities of an organization.
  • Organization - is a group (public or private), association, or society whose purpose is to promote common interests and share information.
  • Publication directly related to the mission - means a publication without which the mission of the institution would be impossible or difficult to perform.


  1. General Statement
    1. Each president is responsible for enforcement of the provisions below. This responsibility may, at the president's discretion, be delegated to other employees of the institution.
  2. Approval
    1. Each institution shall develop, make known, and enforce a process for approval of memberships and subscriptions.
      1. The president or designee(s) shall approve all memberships and subscriptions.
  3. Criteria
    1. An institution may be a member of an organization or maintain subscriptions if the membership or subscription is directly related to the goals and mission of the institution.
    2. An institution may not pay the membership dues or subscription of an individual unless:
      1. organization does not permit institutional membership or where an individual membership (in the name of an institutional representative) is less expensive than an institutional membership.
      2. However, memberships necessary to maintain or enhance an employee's professional status (e.g. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or Bar membership dues) should be considered the responsibility of the employee and the association dues considered a personal expense.
    3. Duplicate memberships and subscriptions should be evaluated with the intention of eliminating unneeded duplicate memberships/subscriptions.
    4. Where membership dues are included as part or all of the expense of an organization meeting for which the institution pays the expense of an employee to attend, the appropriate expenses shall be considered membership dues under these guidelines and should be subject to the established membership approval process.
    5. Faculty and staff membership in civic organizations is encouraged; however, state funds may not be used to pay for memberships.
    6. No institution may subscribe to political publications for other than instructional purposes. 
    7. An institution may subscribe to newspapers within its service area for public information and instructional-related purposes.
    8. Newspaper clipping services.
      1. The need for the service shall be clearly set forth in writing.
      2. The written justification should address the following points:
        1. The type of clipping service requested. (For example, all statewide daily newspapers.)
        2. The use of information provided by the service.
          1. Who the clippings are circulated to in the institution.
          2. How the clippings benefit the institution.
      3. A statement that the clipping service is the most economical means of fulfilling the institution's need.
    9.  State funds may not be used to pay fees, dues, or subscriptions in conjunction with the membership, meetings, or activities of an organization if participation or membership in the organization requires an employee of the institution to endorse or promote a divisive concept as defined by T.C.A. § 49-7-1902.
  4. Exceptions
    1. The Chancellor is authorized to make exceptions to these guidelines.



T.C.A. § 49-8-203


May 25, 1982 SBR presidents meeting. Revised July 1, 1984; Presidents Meeting February 13, 2002; Presidents Meeting August 19, 2003; May 12, 2009 presidents meeting; Presidents Meeting August 9, 2023.