UT Trustees Approve Six Percent Tuition Hike

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Knoxville (WVLT) - First it was gas prices, then a gallon of milk, now the tuition to send your son or daughter to the University of Tennessee is going up.

It's about to get harder for Tennessee families to make ends meet.

Thursday, the UT Board of Trustees passed its 2008 budget, with a six percent increase for in and out of state tuition.

Volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard takes a closer look at the numbers and how they compare to other state universities.

"All those is favor, please say 'aye.'”

A unanimous vote from the UT Board of Trustees will cost families thousands of dollars more in tuition.

The six percent student fee and tuition increase means in-state undergraduates will pay $352 more a year for a total of $6,216. Out-of-state undergraduates will pay $1,080 dollars more at $19,074; making UT's tuition nearly two thousand dollars more than neighboring UK, about $2,500 more than the University of Alabama, the lowest in the southeast.

The move makes UT less only to the University of Virginia, by less than two thousand dollars, the highest in the southeast.

UT trustees say it's not a decision they take lightly.

"I came in with the idea that we're going to stop all these increases. Unfortunately, this will be the eleventh time I'll have to vote for some increase in tuition,” says UT Trustee Jerry Jackson.

"Doing it so we can better pay our faculty and staff is the right thing to do, because, otherwise, we're going to lose a lot of good people,” says Trustee James Murphy.

The six percent student fee and tuition increase will pay for a five percent faculty salary and wage compensation program.

UT President Doctor John Petersen calls the six percent increase both "modest" and "necessary," in order to provide a quality education. "From my standpoint, we'll keep it as low as possible, but the other thing we can't do is we can't diminish the quality of an education."

At a cost of $1.59 billion to operate the University of Tennessee during the 2008 fiscal year.

UT officials say lottery-funded scholarships also are expected to increase and should absorb some of the tuition hike.

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