Tuition Discounts and Waivers Sent to Summer Study

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Lawmakers to consider creating task force to study financial implications of existing programs

As we have previously reported, lawmakers this session filed an unprecedented number of tuition discount and waiver bills to benefit various groups of Tennesseans. These bills, while well-intentioned, represent a continued funding challenge for Tennessee’s public colleges and universities as they are only partially funded by the legislature. Public higher education ultimately foots the majority of the bill for such discounts, with the state only appropriating approximately 13 percent of the cost to administer them. Additional discounts for various populations would have left public universities to face a growing unfunded fiscal burden, which is perhaps one reason why the House Education Instruction and Programs Subcommittee this week sent all but one bill creating a new tuition discount or waiver program to summer study.

Furthermore, lawmakers are considering legislation to create a task force to study the financial implications of existing tuition discounts required by law. This would provide a key opportunity for lawmakers, higher education stakeholders, and several state departments to work together on potential solutions for the administration and funding of statutorily mandated tuition discounts and waivers. The task force would be charged with submitting recommendations for statutory and policy changes to the legislature.

(Note: The discounts referenced above are separate and distinct from those provided to UT employees as part of their official benefits.  UT employee discounts are fully funded by the University).

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