Proposed Tuition Increases

June 17, 2011

To: UT System-wide Faculty and Staff
From: President Joe DiPietro
Re: Proposed Tuition Increases

When the UT Board of Trustees meets June 23, it will vote on next year's budget for the University. The board's discussion will include proposed tuition increases for our three undergraduate campuses and our health science center. I wanted you to be aware of our proposals and the reasoning for any increases in advance.

The proposed tuition increases will differ for each campus, based on specific needs and on individual missions. If approved, the additional revenue will be directed primarily to (1) help offset higher operating costs, (2) help replace a more than 20 percent decline in state appropriations, and (3) enable employee pay increases for the first time in four years.

Proposing to increase tuition is not taken lightly. Unfortunately with reduced state funding, this must be a primary resource for providing the faculty, courses and infrastructure that give our students the high-quality education that helps keep our best and brightest at home in Tennessee.

We begin this new fiscal year with $120 million less in state funding than we had in 2008, prior to availability of stimulus funding—which has now ended. At the same time, more than $45 million in cuts from our operating overhead have been identified as part of an efficiency and effectiveness initiative led by our Trustees. We have been diligent in seeking to maximize savings and minimize impact of the reductions.

In addition to filling the appropriations gap and meeting operating costs, these funds will help support mission-specific goals at each campus as guided by the Complete College Act of Tennessee. That includes pursuit of top 25 research institute status by UT Knoxville—a critical economic development opportunity—and specific, measurable, quality-oriented mission goals at UT Chattanooga and UT Martin.

Proposed in-state, undergraduate tuition increases by campus:

  • UT Knoxville - $774 per year, a 12 percent increase.
  • UT Chattanooga - $486 per year, a 9.9 percent increase.
  • UT Martin - $508 per year, a 9.9 percent increase.

Proposed increases for the professional units at UTHSC vary within colleges and range from 4.8 to 15 percent.

With the availability of Hope Lottery scholarships and other assistance funding, average NET cost of tuition is unbelievably low. For example, on our Knoxville campus the net average ranges from a high of only $2,465.95 per year for students in the highest quarter of family income, while those in the lowest quarter of family income actually receive an average of $4,955.49 in excess financial aid beyond tuition. We have dramatically increased our need-based assistance pool over the years, and this increase will not disadvantage low-income students.

The cost of attending any University of Tennessee campus continues to be a good value and is very competitive with our peer universities.

All but two of UT Knoxville's 27 most competitive peers have tuition that is higher. At UT Martin and at UT Chattanooga, tuition is below the average of peer institutions.

As the Complete College Act begins to impact how higher education functions in Tennessee, there will be more and more incentive for students to complete college faster. Investments in faculty and sufficient class sections are necessary now to meet the increased needs for faster completion.

Investment in faster completion will benefit parents, students and the state of Tennessee in at least three important ways:

  • A $774 tuition increase (12 percent at Knoxville) that ultimately helps a student finish in four years instead of five is much cheaper than the cost of an extra year of tuition and living expenses.
  • Finishing faster puts new graduates into the work force faster, positively impacting the state's economy sooner.
  • Student loan debt will be reduced.

I am convinced these increases will be good investments, bringing positive results for students, parents and all Tennesseans. We are committed to being good stewards of the resources and making certain that positive outcomes take place.

Schedules of proposed tuition at each campus and unit are available in the Board of Trustees meeting materials at I invite you to watch the Webcast of the full board meeting on June 23.

Thank you for all you do for the University of Tennessee.