UTC offers regional tuition rate to freshmen, sophomores in local Alabama, Georgia counties

Students walk to class on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Chattanooga, Tenn. in this file photo.

Counties included in regional rate

(All are in Georgia except Jackson, which is in Alabama)CatoosaDadeFanninMurrayWalkerWhitfieldJackson

Starting this fall, both freshman and sophomore students from seven local counties in Georgia and Alabama will be able to take advantage of a regional tuition rate at UTC.

Participating students will pay in-state tuition plus 25 percent of the out-of-state tuition rate. The offer is available to students from Catoosa, Dade, Fannin, Murray, Walker and Whitfield counties in Georgia and Jackson County in Alabama who are in good academic standing.

"These students and their families who live just beyond the state lines are part of the greater Chattanooga area, they are part of our community. Many of them work and shop in Chattanooga," said UTC Chancellor Steve Angle.

"They definitely contribute to the economic growth and cultural vitality of this community," he said. "Expansion of our regional tuition rate allows us to better serve the educational needs of this entire area."

Juniors and seniors at UTC have been able to pay the regional rate since June 2007, and the option was expanded to include graduate students in 2009.

The rate has been a considerable boon to the university, which has earned more than $3 million in tuition from students who enrolled under it.

"Expanding the regional tuition rate to freshmen and sophomores has been the most-requested change in our enrollment for years," said Yancy Freeman, assistant provost for enrollment management. "With this expansion, transfer students, new students and graduate students from these areas will have equal access to the benefits of a UTC education."

Chuck Cantrell, a spokesman for UTC, said he's excited about the rate expansion because it builds on an already successful idea by providing options to a wider range of prospective students.

"For fall of 2016, we had 179 students who were on the regional tuition rate. That included juniors, seniors and graduate students," he said.

"This is something we have wanted for a long time. We're only about three or four miles from the state line," he said. "Clearly there are members of our community who, because of that imaginary line there, have had to pay out-of-state tuition."

Cantrell said the move will allow students who live in the region to commit fully to UTC at a cheaper rate without having to juggle two or more schools through their collegiate career.

"It's an opportunity for them to completely own a four-year degree or even get a graduate degree without having to go somewhere else or transfer," he said.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.