Public Colleges Call for State Funding Turnaround

TBR chancellor John Morgan says its time for the state to start carrying more of the higher education load. Student tuition and mandatory fees now account for two-thirds of the cost of higher education in Tennessee.

TBR chancellor John Morgan says its time for the state to start carrying more of the higher education load. Student tuition and mandatory fees now account for two-thirds of the cost of higher education in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s public universities say this is the year to stem the tide in budget cuts. The Board of Regents and University of Tennessee are asking for a $33 million increase in state funding.

Any new money would represent a turnaround. Higher education has been on the losing end of state budget battles over the last 10 years, with funding cut by 30 percent.

TBR chancellor John Morgan says there’s a limit to how much students can be asked to cover the gap. He blames this year’s enrollment dip – in part – on ballooning tuition.

“It’s time to stop reducing funding for higher education and going in the other direction. So I’ll be real disappointed if we don’t see pretty significant investment.”

During budget hearings, Governor Bill Haslam agreed with Morgan but also didn’t make promises, saying health care is eating up what would have been discretionary money.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission will meet later this week to approve six percent tuition hikes at universities and three percent at community colleges next year. The figures are based on getting the additional state funding.

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