Tuition increase plan
Student taking six hours:
* Tuition after increase: $708
* Tuition increase: 6.3 percent
* Tuition change: $42
Student taking 12 hours:
* Tuition after increase: $1,416
* Tuition increase: 6.3 percent
* Tuition change: $84
Student taking 18 hours:
* Tuition after increase: $1,524
* Tuition increase: 11.4 percent
* Tuition change: $156
Source: Tennessee Board of Regents
Some students at Chattanooga State and Cleveland State community colleges could pay double-digit tuition increases this fall if a plan being debated by the Tennessee Board of Regents is approved.
Students taking 12 hours of classes or less would pay 6.3 percent more, but students who take more than 12 hours would face higher increases. Someone taking 18 hours of classes, for instance, would pay 11.4 percent more, documents show.
A Board of Regents business and finance committee will vote on the tuition plan Tuesday. If approved, it will be presented to the full Board of Regents for a vote on June 25.
The increase comes on the back of a 5.5 percent increase approved last year and likely will precede a similar increase next year, officials said, as higher education officials strain to make up for the loss of more than one-quarter of state funding in the last two years.
"There has been a shift away from the general taxpayer underwriting higher education," said Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State Community College. "The burden for maintaining the institution is falling with increasing weight onto students."
A series of tuition increases is intended to help institutions within the Board of Regents system recover 80 percent of lost state appropriations by 2012. In 2008, state funding accounted for much more than half of community college support and totaled $755 million.
Reductions this year and last year, driven mostly by falling state tax revenues, pushed lawmakers to cut $186 million from higher education's share of the budget.
Chattanooga State has lost 18.8 percent, or $5 million, of its state funding since 2008, and Cleveland State Community College has lost 17.3 percent, or $1.9 million, in the same time.
"What we have tried to do is look at this as a three-year plan," said Dale Sims, vice chancellor of business and finance at the Board of Regents.
Federal stimulus dollars have helped community colleges spare most jobs and programs in the short term, but many state leaders say there is a desperate need to secure funding and protect schools from a stimulus cliff when the money runs out.
"Given the state's condition, the erosion might occur next year at a higher level," Dr. Catanzaro said.
Only 3,348 students systemwide took 18 hours of classes last fall, documents show, but the double-digit increase for those students would be the first of its kind in several years.
After years of not charging students for any credits they took above 12 hours, Board of Regents officials voted to begin charging students for those credits a year ago because of concerns about efficiency. The University of Tennessee system does not charge for credits more than 12 hours.
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