Governor Bill Haslam Holds Higher Education Budget Hearing

The Governor’s higher education budget hearing was held Friday, where leaders from the University of Tennessee System, Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and the Board of Regents delivered presentations and requests for FY 2014-2015.

Each year, a central theme of discussion at this hearing is tuition—namely, what is needed for the next fiscal year in terms of a tuition increase.  The Tennessee Higher Education Commission makes recommendations annually to this end.  This year, their recommendation includes an increase between 2 and 4 percent for traditional public campuses.  THEC also recommended a 3.6 percent funding increase for non-formula units such as the UT Institute for Public Service and the UT Institute of Agriculture, a measure UT President Joe DiPietro applauded.

Higher education leaders at the hearing largely agreed with the THEC recommendation.  But to meet such a recommendation, DiPietro highlighted the need for the State to commit to the full funding of the Complete College Tennessee outcomes formula and no budget cuts to UT.  He also made the request that the state fully-fund any mandated employee salary increases.  Historically, public higher education institutions are the only state entities that do not receive full funding for such increases.

A number of impressive facts were discussed at the budget hearing.  For example:

  • Over the last five years, undergraduate UT degrees awarded increased by 14 percent and graduate degrees increased by 6.7 percent.
  • Over the last five years, student debt has dropped by 7.8 percent at UT undergraduate campuses.
  • Tennessee college graduates have the 7th lowest debt-burden in the country.
  • Graduation rates at UTK and UTM have increased.  UTK has the state’s highest graduation rates among public institutions, UTM the second highest, and UTC the fourth highest.

To watch the archived video of the budget hearing, click here.