Some legislators have voiced misgivings about one aspect of the University of Tennessee’s new “business model” to boost revenue – pushing to lure more out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition. But Gov. Bill Haslam says he understands, reports the Commercial Appeal.
State Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, told DiPietro during a state budget hearing Monday he’s concerned the plan would displace Tennessee students. But DiPietro said the Chattanooga and Martin campuses have room for more students and the 25 percent figure is a ceiling, not a target or a goal.
“We’re talking about moderately increasing the number of out-of-state students. I don’t foresee a large change overnight. It would be a 2 to 3 percent increase per year,” he said.
At the same hearing, House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, called the plan “a wake-up call to all of us on the committee. If we don’t fund UT and the other schools, this is what happens. These are choices we’re going to have to make. These are choices we’re going to have to think about.”
Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said his system is also examining increasing the mix of out of state students. “If we can attract students paying two or three times, it’s very much about generating revenue. We have the capacity” for additional enrollment, he said.
…Haslam told reporters Tuesday said he understands why UT and TBR are examining their “business models”: the state’s share of higher education’s funding has dropped from nearly 70 percent 20 years ago to about 30 percent. And as the state’s share has declined, tuition and fees have sharply increased.
“In the university’s defense, in the old days when we paid 70 percent of the costs and students paid 30 percent, there was a reason to be in the formula that it was in. Now with the switch — with us paying 30 percent and them paying 70 percent — I think they’re saying, ‘we have to make the economics work for us.’
“We obviously still want the University of Tennessee and all of our in-state schools to be predominantly Tennessee students. There is another upside to doing that: if students come here, there’s a better chance they’ll stay here,” the governor said.
DiPietro said nationally, about 40 to 45 percent of students who attend college out of state stay in that state after graduating.