published Friday, May 9th, 2014

College tuition increases mulled in Tennessee

House members participate in a floor debate during at the state Capitol in Nashville on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, about Gov. Bill Haslam's bill to grant free tuition to community colleges to all high school graduates.
House members participate in a floor debate during at the state Capitol in Nashville on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, about Gov. Bill Haslam's bill to grant free tuition to community colleges to all high school graduates.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Tuition increases could be in store for many college students in Tennessee.

The Tennessean reports that some public universities could see increases of between 4 and 8 percent to offset reduced state funding. Community college students could see an increase of between 2.6 and 10.6 percent.

Officials at a Tennessee Board of Regents Finance Committee meeting on Thursday reviewed estimated increases at each school.

The University of Memphis submitted a plan to avoid an increase. Projected increases at other schools varied.

Officials say the numbers are preliminary. Formal tuition proposals will be ready on May 27.

Tuition recommendations for the University of Tennessee system will be ready on June 19, but UT officials have discussed an increase of 4 to 6 percent.

Although the Tennessee Higher Education Commission recommended an increase of $29.6 million for higher education, the state budget eliminated any new funding. Universities had projected a smaller tuition increase even if the state funding had been approved.

"You just do the math, and instead of 2 to 4 percent, you end up being at 4 to 8 percent," TBR Chancellor John Morgan said. "That's fairly consistent with what you're seeing — at least at this stage of the conversation with the institutions."

In 2010, Tennessee adopted a plan that would financially reward colleges that meet certain performance outcomes.

"It's important, I think, we do the best job we can in trying to control the cost side of the equation," Morgan said. "But at the same time, we've got to recognize that we're asking our institutions to generate improved outcomes, which results in the desire of those institutions to be able to finance various kinds of strategies and initiatives."

A plan pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam to offer free community college tuition to high school graduates starts in 2015.

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