Tennessee Bills Propose Massage Program Hour Increase

Effective July 1, 2024, Tennessee massage students will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid because massage programs are limited by Tennessee law. But there is a solution: House Bill 1610 and Senate Bill 1588 will increase the required education hours for massage licensure from 500 to 650. ABMP fully supports these bills, and here’s why you should, too.

First, Some Background Info
In October, the US Department of Education issued revised Gainful Employment rules that impact clock-hour programs in states like Tennessee that have minimum clock-hour requirements for licensure or certification. These programs include massage therapy schools.

Why You Should Care
The new rule mandates that schools align with their state's minimum-hour education requirements, though clock-hour programs must be at least 600 hours to qualify for federal financial aid. In Tennessee, the state law requires 500 massage education hours. So, if a student needs 600 hours to receive funding, but Tennessee offers only 500 hours, schools can no longer offer federal funding for students.

Tennessee and 21 other states are in jeopardy because they require fewer than 600 education hours. Tennessee must increase its minimum required education hours in order for massage students to continue to access federal funding.

How Can You Help?
Advocate! ABMP encourages you to support House Bill 1610 and Senate Bill 1588, and we need your help to ensure an increase in massage education hours is a priority for the Tennessee legislature. Write a letter to your elected officials sharing that federal financial aid is necessary to keep your school doors open or that it helped fund your student tuition costs. Find your representatives and senators here.

When addressing your reps, speak from the heart—elevate your voice, experience, and expertise. You can even draw inspiration from ABMP’s letter to the legislature here. Hearing from and learning how this legislation will impact schools, instructors, and current and former students may help save massage programs and federal funding. Let’s protect access to student financial aid and entry into the profession together!