KNOXVILLE - University of Tennessee system trustees have approved tuition increases that raise annual student costs by $488, or 10 percent, at UTC.
The financial hit is even harder at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where annual tuition will rise by $774, or 12 percent. At UT-Martin, tuition will go up by $508, or 10 percent.
The tuition increase for the budget year that starts July 1 generates about $53 million and helps support a $1.86 billion budget that spends about $52 million, or 3 percent, less than this year.
The budget, approved without dissent on a voice vote, includes $38 million to increase salaries by up to 5 percent for faculty and staff.
Walking with a group of prospective students and parents touring the Knoxville campus, Al Hutchins, 59, of Canton, Ga., said Thursday that his son is looking at several universities and tuition and fees are increasing everywhere.
Hutchins said a college education is a necessity and "you've got to pay for it."
"It's what you sign up for when you have children," said Hutchins, a pediatric dentist. He said the out-of-state tuition in Knoxville is more than $25,000.
Board Vice Chairman Jim Murphy said he voted yes reluctantly for the tuition increase but it is just helping offset decreased revenue. He said the pay raises are needed to make the university's salaries competitive, because the university's "best and brightest are being recruited away."
Gov. Bill Haslam told trustees that the new state budget reduces appropriations to the university system primarily because of continuing increases in health care costs but he said revenues are improving and there should not be a big cut for higher education next year.
"So far we've been encouraged by revenues," he said.
UT President Joe DiPietro has advised faculty and staff that the increases are partly to help offset operating costs and a more than 20 percent drop in state appropriations and to fund the first employee pay raises in four years.
The vote raises annual tuition and fees at the Knoxville campus to $8,396, more than a 100 percent increase over the past decade.
Senior agriculture major Kristie Mantooth, 26, of Cleveland, said she is receiving financial aid and already has education loans totaling more than $25,000.
"The more I get the more in debt I am," she said.
Mantooth said she transferred from a community college and has had to interrupt her college work to help pay for her education.
"I don't want to have to quit school again," Mantooth said while working on a project with plants outside the trustee meeting.