Tennessee Legislator To Challenge Tuition Increases

Jul 24, 2013

Credit Matt Shafer Powell

A University of Tennessee-Knoxville freshman starting classes in the Fall of 2004 could expect to pay approximately $4748 in tuition and fees.

A student starting classes this fall will pay approximately 2 1/2 times as much.  And one Tennessee Senate Republican says he's seen enough. 

Jim Summerville (R- Dickson) announced plans this week to introduce legislation that will freeze tuition at Tennessee's public colleges and universities for "several years".  Summerville calls his bill the Tennessee College Students' Tuition Relief Act.  “The current increases are an outrage, especially in light of this year’s increase in appropriations to these higher education systems,” Summerville said in a press release.

This year's budget included a $108.6 million increase in funding for higher education.

In a statement to the Associated Press, UT officials said the increases are necessary to make up for an overall decrease in support from the General Assembly.  "Just 10 years ago, state funds made up more than 50 percent of the University of Tennessee's budget," the statement said.  "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."