A tuition increase for this fall at East Tennessee State University of 7.2 percent was approved by a committee of the school’s governing body Tuesday.
If approved by the full Tennessee Board of Regents later this month, the increase would help ETSU increase pay for faculty and staff, ETSU Vice President for Finance and Administration David Collins said.
Collins said if a student at ETSU takes 15 hours of class at the recommended increased rate, tuition would be $6,997 per year, assuming the discount for hours taken beyond 12 each semester does not change.
According to the Associated Press, ETSU had the highest increase beyond the Tennessee Board of Regent’s base recommendations for its schools. The TBR governs ETSU and other state schools not in the University of Tennessee system.
The TBR base recommendation increase for ETSU for the 2012-13 academic year was 3.7 percent. ETSU had the opportunity to request more and did so to help address worker pay and academic accreditation.
TBR committees met in Nashville Tuesday to, among other things, hear the fee increase requests of member schools and ask questions. The full board will meet June 28 and 29 and vote on the requests at that time.
“But the important part I think though is that we have really worked hard, and this is the point we made to the board, to keep our other required fees down, things like our debt service fee, our parking fees, other fees that all students are required to pay,” Collins said. “So when you look at that, the total tuition and required fees, we will still be basically right in the middle of TBR universities and what we charge and right with our peer averages.”
Equity pay was a major topic of discussion during the search for a new ETSU president this past fall. Brian Noland was named president in November, succeeding Paul Stanton Jr. when he retired in January. Noland promised to address low faculty and staff pay.
Should the increase be approved, a $2.5 million equity pay pool would be created at ETSU. Collins said each faculty and staff member’s job would be evaluated for market value in accordance with the school’s equity pay plan. The pool would be used to provide pay increases. The specifics for that distribution are not yet ready.
State workers got an increase in pay this year from the Legislature. That 2.5 percent increase for ETSU employees will become effective July 1. The equity pay would be on top of that increase.
Last year was the first time the board allowed institutions to request increases beyond the base recommendation. Collins said ETSU chose to not request more money last year.
Collins said while no one likes to increase fees on students, requesting TBR approval for an increase in fees was the only way to keep the school’s academic core operating and address pay issues at ETSU.
TBR Chancellor John Morgan said in an emailed statement the fee increase proposals requested by schools were expected and a result of the state continuing to shift higher education funding to students.