Tag Archives: tuition

State parks to benefit from TN Promise scholars labor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Promise scholars can perform community service hours with events planned across the state later this month.

State parks and natural areas are offering the events on July 23 at all 56 parks. The student volunteers can clear brush, limbs and invasive plants; plant flowers; build trails; assist with community events; or maintain historic features.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said in a news release the projects are designed to beautify the parks and natural areas and provide meaningful outdoors experiences for the volunteers.

Tennessee Promise provides tuition-free community and technical college to recent high school graduates. This fall, all Tennessee Promise students using the program are required to complete eight hours of community service by Aug. 1.

For a list of events and to register, visit http://www.tnstateparks.com/about/special-event-cards/tn-promise-saturday or contact Nancy Schelin at (615) 532-5249 or nancy.schelin@tn.gov.

Board of Regents signs off on tuition increases averaging 2.6 percent

News release from Tennessee Board of Regents
The Tennessee Board of Regents (Friday) approved the lowest increases in undergraduate tuition since 1983.

Tuition rates at the six TBR universities, 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology will increase an average of 2.6 percent for the 2016-17 academic year.

The action, taken during the TBR quarterly meeting at Northeast State Community College, represents the lowest average increases in more than 30 years. The increases are within the range recommended by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Continue reading

UT Trustees sign off on 2.2 percent tuition increase

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee’s Board of Trustees has approved tuition increases for the coming fiscal year that the school says are the lowest in 30 years.

According to a news release from UT, in-state tuition will increase no more than 2.2 percent for most undergraduates. The majority of fees will not increase. The net increases range from 0 to 3 percent, depending on the campus.

The increases are part of a $2.2 billion budget approved by the trustees at their quarterly meeting in Knoxville on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, UT President Joe DiPietro announced the appointment of Noma Anderson as a special adviser on diversity and inclusion. Anderson is dean of the UT Health Science Center College of Health Professions.

DiPietro said “a diverse and inclusive culture equals success.”

UT tuition increase of 2.2 percent would be lowest in 30 years

University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro has proposed tuition increases for the UT system of about 2.2 percent, which he says is the lowest increase in more than 30 years, according to the Times-Free Press.

“Shout it from the mountaintop,” DiPietro quipped. “As always, action by the UT Board of Trustees is required for fee or tuition increases and, therefore, nothing is official until after the board meets.”

That will come Wednesday and Thursday when first a committee and later the full UT board votes on a plan to cap tuition increases to 2.2 percent in most cases for the proposed 2016-2017 fiscal year budget.

…Under the overall proposal, some students at UT-Martin will participate in a restructured fee program called “Soar in Four,” designed to reduce the cost of obtaining an undergraduate degree by incentivizing completion in four years.

And undergraduates in UT-Knoxville’s “Take 15, Graduate in 4” program who were admitted in 2013-2014 will see a 3 percent tuition increase. Previous increases for the group have been capped at lower-than-average levels in previous years, resulting in average annual increases of 2.2 percent over the last four years, according to UT.

The 2.2 percent cap, dubbed the “maintenance fee,” applies to most in-state and out-of-state undergraduates with the exception of those who would be included in Martin’s “Soar in Four” program.

Some graduate programs are not increasing tuition. Others are proposing increases from 2.2 percent to 5 percent.

Regents universities offer some big discounts on out-of-state tuition

For the first time, all six four-year universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system will offer big discounts in out-of-state tuition to some students this fall, according to WPLN. To get the discounts, students must live within 250 miles of the university and have high ACT scores.

This new rule covers a wide area. Take Tennessee State University: If you put the school in the center of a circle, and draw radius of 250 miles in all directions, you cover as far north as Indianapolis, northwest to St. Louis, east to Asheville, and down to Atlanta.

TSU senior Jordan Gaither is from Atlanta. He and his parents currently pay all his tuition out of pocket. “With me being an out of student, it is definitely a lot,” he says.

But under the new rule, his tuition for the upcoming year will be cut by about $9,000. It’s still not quite as cheap as the in-state rate, but it’s enough to take off a big burden, he says. “I don’t take that for granted at all.”

This kind of 250-mile program first started in 2014 at the University of Memphis. The campus is right on the border, and it already gave in-state tuition to students from neighboring counties, but the school wanted to attract more students from the whole region. Vice-provost Steve McKellips says some students might even stay in Memphis after college.

“This is a major initiative that helps the university, helps the community, helps the workforce development, helps the students — it kind of has a win on all four sides,” he says.

Tuition cut for immigrant students dies in House

During an emotional speech Wednesday, Rep. Mark White announced he would not revive his bill to secure in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants at public colleges, ending a years-long effort that won support from colleges and Gov. Bill Haslam.

Further from The Tennessean:

White, R-Memphis, said earlier this month that he was optimistic the bill would return to the House floor before the end of the session. But while discussing the House effort to override a veto on the Bible bill, White remarked that he would not try to get the bill passed because it did not have enough support.

White said undocumented students cried in his office Tuesday when he informed them of his intentions.

More than 100 undocumented students had traveled to the Capitol last week to encourage legislators to reconsider the bill, which passed the Senate last year but failed in the House by one vote.

Note: Press release from Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition is below. Continue reading

Undocumented TN students rally for lower tuition

Undocumented students from across Tennessee came to Legislative Plaza Tuesday to try to convince lawmakers to give new life to a bill that would slash their tuition at public colleges, reports The Tennessean.

Wearing placards that described their career aspirations — some said they were future educators or entrepreneurs — more than 100 students chanted their demand for tuition equality on the steps of War Memorial Auditorium. Without it, some of them said, the prohibitive cost of higher education would keep them from pursuing their dreams.

Under state law, undocumented immigrants who want to go to public colleges must pay out-of-state rates that are often two or three times higher than those offered to Tennessee citizens.

A bill that would have given some undocumented students in-state tuition last year won support from Gov. Bill Haslam and dozens of lawmakers, including some conservative Republicans who had been vocal opponents in the past. The bill (SB612) ultimately failed by one vote in the House of Representatives, where critics said such a change would give undocumented students an unfair advantage over U.S. citizens.

But the students gathered Tuesday, who had been recruited and trained to share their stories by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, hoped lawmakers would bring the bill back to the floor before the session ends later this month. They held about 50 meetings with lawmakers in hopes of winning over opponents and resuscitating the bill’s chances.

“Students’ stories have been what have moved legislators, or moved the community,” said Eben Cathey, the spokesman for the coalition. “When you hear their stories you understand we’re talking about the hopes and dreams of the next generation of leaders.”

Rep. Mark White, the Memphis Republican who sponsored the bill in the House, acknowledged that election year politics might make passing the bill a challenge. But he said he remained optimistic about its chances to come back to the floor with the votes necessary to become law.

Tuition freeze bill sinks in House sub

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill that would have frozen tuition rates at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities appears to be dead after failing to make it through a House subcommittee.

Under the bill, students would pay the same tuition for all four years in college and any major tuition hike would have to gain unanimous approval by the school’s government board.

Members of the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee voted down the bill on Wednesday.

According to the nonprofit College Board, the 54 percent increase over five years at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville was the highest rate among flagship public universities in the country.

UT officials had fought the bill, saying that steep tuition hikes were the result of dramatic decreases in the amount of state funding to universities.

Note: It’s HB2069, sponsored in the House by Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, and in the Senate by Education Committee Chair Delores Gresham, R-Somerville.

DiPietro slams tuition freeze bills

University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro said Monday that a bill to freeze tuition at the state’s colleges and universities isn’t needed and could harm the university by depriving it of money needed to hire and retain faculty.

Further from the News-Sentinel:

DiPietro said the state provided 62 percent of the UT system’s unrestricted revenues in 1995 — a number decreased to 39 percent last year. He said the UT system’s state appropriations as a share of the overall state budget have declined from 6 percent to 4 percent over the last 20 years. “And we went through a $125 million reduction in budget due to the great recession, just UT, from 2008 to 2012. So it’s shifted: we’ve transferred the cost over a time frame from the state to the students,” he said.

Lawmakers are considering two tuition-freeze bills. One backed by Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, (SB2057) would freeze tuition and fees for two years and after that, require unanimous votes of the universities’ governing boards for any tuition and fee increase totaling more than 2 percent above the consumer price index. A second bill (SB2308) would freeze tuition at current rates for four years.

“Two years ago we said we were going to try to bring tuition under control and we’ve certainly done that. Last year’s tuition (increase) was 3 percent, the lowest in more than 30 years. The reality is, we woke up and smelled the coffee on this previously and we don’t think we need this legislation to keep our tuitions modest and low,” DiPietro told reporters after a budget hearing before the House Finance Committee.

“We have a long-term projection over 10 years to keep tuition at the cost of inflation so we don’t really think there’s a need for doing it,” he said. And UT’s Chattanooga and Martin campuses face tremendous competition to keep rates low from the state’s nearby community and technical colleges, where new high school graduates can attend tuition-free under the new Tennessee Promise program.

DiPietro said most UT students receive some kind of institutional support and the Hope Scholarship, “so the true cost of attendance is much lower” than the posted rates.

He said that if the four-year freeze legislation is enacted, UT would lose more than $80 million by the fourth year. The other bill would result in losses of about $10 million the first year and $20 million the second year.

Tuition freeze bill clears Senate Ed Committee 9-0

A bill mandating a tuition freeze for Tennessee colleges and universities was approved 9-0 by the Senate Education Committee after the panel’s chairman blamed “salary inflation” in higher education for past tuition hikes, reports Richard Locker.

The bill (SB2306)…would freeze tuition and mandatory fees at current levels until the 2018-19 school year and after that require full governing-board approval for increases greater than 2 percent above the consumer price index. It would also institute a tuition-freeze for individual students, starting with freshmen entering in 2018, in which each student’s tuition and mandatory fees would remain fixed at freshman-year rates through undergraduate degrees if they remain enrolled in school and graduate on time.

Its sponsor, Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, presented a slideshow in support of the bill in her committee that sought to shift blame for large tuition increases from the state Legislature for low-to-flat appropriations for higher education over the past two decades to the campuses themselves for what she called “inflated” salaries and staffing levels. Gresham directed much of her ire at the University of Tennessee.

“Some have said tuition has gone up as enrollment has grown and the state has not kept up its end of the bargain. While this may be somewhat true, enrollment at UT Knoxville has fluctuated somewhat. UT Knoxville’s entire fiscal growth has been on the backs of our students. This graph makes it clear that a large increase in enrollment nor a decrease in state funding are really to blame for the problem,” she said.

Gresham and her charts said the UT System has 1,465 employees paid more than $100,000 per year and the Tennessee Board of Regents system has 945. Another slide compared salaries of the chief financial officers, chief information officers and general counsels of UT and TBR and their counterparts in state government. She said those positions range from 14 to 37 percent more in higher education than in the State Capitol.

“So the salary inflation in these key positions is indicative of the salary inflation that is rampant globally throughout higher education in Tennessee,” Gresham said, though she didn’t cite numbers. “Non teaching positions are being paid substantially more than their general state government counterparts by-and-large for no other reason other than … they work in higher education. For example, how both TBR and UT feel their CFOs should be paid 21 and 32 percent more respectively than the (state) commissioner of finance and administration is troubling to me.

“In addition to the UT System chief financial officer earning $250,219, UT Knoxville has a vice chancellor of finance and administration that is paid $303,060 and this staffer has an assistant earning $170,168 a year and two more directors earning roughly $100,000 each in his department, for a total payroll including benefits of over a million dollars a year just in these five positions,” Gresham said.

The UT System’s vice president for government relations, Anthony Haynes, said he was surprised and “disappointed” with the presentation. “If we have been given a better idea of what the presentation was, we could have prepared for it. There continues to be a lack of understanding about the cause of tuition increases. Nobody has worked harder to keep tuition lower in Tennessee than UT. Last year’s tuition increase was the lowest in 20 years.”

Note: The Senate bill now goes to the Finance Committee. There’s been no committee vote in the House.