Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) announced yesterday that he would be bringing a legislative proposal next session to freeze tuition at the current rates at Tennessee public colleges and universities. In a press release, the senator emphasizes the tuition increases at public colleges and universities over the past decade but fails to mention the significant cuts in state funding to public higher education over this same period.
In response to Senator Summerville’s press release, the University of Tennessee System Administration issued the following statement:
“College tuition at universities across the nation has risen faster than the cost of living in recent years, but the reason for those increases is not always well-understood.
Just 10 years ago, state funds made up more than 50 percent of the University of Tennessee’s budget. Today, state funds make up about 30 percent of the University’s budget. Meanwhile, the University’s fixed costs for utilities, equipment, and maintenance, for example, have been ongoing and increasing.
UT has significantly enhanced efficiencies, has absorbed increased enrollment, and this year produced 17 percent more college graduates than 10 years ago at a cost per graduate that is 3 percent lower than 10 years ago when adjusted for inflation. Further, grants and scholarships, including the Hope Scholarship, keep out-of-pocket costs for today’s students at a fraction of actual tuition.
Maintaining the high quality education, research and outreach we provide to the entire state is both UT’s mission and our commitment. We will continue our efforts to work with the senator in hopes of achieving the best outcomes for our students and their families.”
– UT System (Administration) Statement