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TBR initiative could mean 6 percent tuition hike for ETSU

June 17th, 2014 9:49 pm by Nathan Baker

TBR initiative could mean 6 percent tuition hike for ETSU

Next year’s East Tennessee State University students could pay $442 more per year for tuition at the Johnson City college if an increase plan is approved later this week by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

At the state institutions governing board’s quarterly meeting Friday, the regents will consider a 6.1 percent increase in mandatory and maintenance fees requested by the university, putting the cost to attend ETSU for full-time, in-state undergraduate students at $7,691 annually.

The dollar amount of the increase is third highest request out of the six 4-year TBR schools this year, partly because ETSU’s Student Government Association only approved a $5 per semester mandatory fee increase to help fund the Little Bucs Early Childhood Laboratory Program, Vice President of Finance and Administration David Collins said Tuesday.

“It seems high, but it’s important to note that out of the other schools, we’re lower than several of them because they raised their mandatory fees,” Collins said. “Our total increase, when you count the maintenance fees, is a little bit over 6 percent, putting us in the middle of the pack.”

Last year, the college’s tuition rose by $546 per year, with $270 in student fees, driven in-part by a $125 athletics fee hike to support the restarted football team, and a $276 maintenance fee increase.

“Certainly this isn’t something we like to see,” Collins said of the continuing rise in the cost of higher education. “But it’s necessary for us to keep up with our costs as the state continues to not fund higher education to the levels that have been recommended.

Looking at personnel and operational costs, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission planned a 2- to 4-percent tuition increase earlier this year, before Gov. Bill Haslam and state legislators decided to nix a proposed $29 million increase in state funding for higher education after signs that sales tax collections would not be as robust as expected.

The rise in maintenance fees the TBR will consider this week for ETSU is expected to provide $250,000 for faculty promotions and $2.7 million to offset the university’s budget deficit, among other things, meeting materials provide to the regents states. In total, state performance-based funding and the institution’s request will bring in an estimated $6.8 million in additional student revenue.

The college’s request applies the same rate of increase for out-of state tuition, as well, and includes a 2-percent increase for students of the Quillen College of Medicine and a 3-percent increase at the Gatton College of Pharmacy.

Collins said the school’s requests have already passed through lower committees in the approval process, meaning they shouldn’t see much opposition from the full board of regents.

After a lean budget year at ETSU and consecutive years of falling enrollment, Collins said fall enrollment is looking to be up, indicating better fiscal times for the college.

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