Written by Heidi Hall, The Tennessean
Students in the University of Tennessee system will pay 4-8 percent more in tuition this fall, depending on their school.
The system's board will vote June 21 at members' annual meeting in Knoxville. President Joe DiPietro said the state recommended increases of 4-6 percent for UT-Martin and UT-Chattanooga and 6-8 percent for UT-Knoxville.
Part of the increase will fund a 2.5 percent raise for faculty, who went four years without any pay increases until last year. DiPietro told The Tennessean's editorial board this morning that UT-Knoxville lags far behind peer institutions in salary, and attracting and retaining the best professors will help it move toward the goal of being in the nation's top 25 institutions as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
UT-Knoxville came in at 46 in the most recent issue. Its in-state tuition, $8,400 per year, is well under all but two top 25 schools, DiPietro said.
A large part of moving UT-Knoxville up the list would be improving its six-year graduation rate from 64 percent to 75 percent or higher. UT wants to do that by getting students thinking about a four-year graduation from their first day on campus, DiPietro said, plus intervening early when they struggle.
He also discussed changes in the state's HOPE scholarship. This year's incoming high school freshman may need to score both a 21 on their ACT and earn a 3.0 GPA to get the full $4,000 instead of only achieving one measure or the other. Those who only achieve one will get $2,000.
If the lottery scholarship fund is performing well before they graduate, lawmakers can keep HOPE as is.
"I thought it was important to give young people a heads up," DiPietro said. "If you have weak skills in being able to take tests, you need to get those up if you want to get the full HOPE."