On January 21, Tennessee State Senator Dolores Gresham proposed a new bill that directly affects college students attending public universities in Tennessee.
The Tuition Stability Act is meant to address what Sen. Gresham reported as the 456% tuition raise at the university of Tennessee at Knoxville, the largest member of the UT school system.
This act, according to the Knoxville New Sentinel, would freeze tuition rates through the 2018/2019 academic year.
If Senate Bill 2306 is passed, the Tennessee Board of Trustees would only be allowed to raise the cost of four-year public schools in the state of Tennessee by a certain percentage at a time, and only if voted for unanimously by the entire board.
While some claims have been made that this may increase the amount of students able to attend and finish college, critics of the bill say there is also a negative side to this act. For the UT system, this bill has the potential to greatly harm its colleges.
A statement released by UTK expresses the negative impact the bill may have on its faculty. With less money coming into the school, the school says, maintaining all of the system’s current staff would become difficult. In addition, the university said that some of the courses currently offered may have to be dropped to accommodate a new budget strategy.
Many educators and officials in the system have spoken out against the act, including UTM’s own Interim Chancellor, Dr. Robert Smith.
“As it specifically relates to UTM this is projected to cost the University $1.5 million in the first year and escalates to close to $5M in the first four years.” said Dr. Smith in a statement.
The chancellor has also expressed concern that were the act to pass, the extra year many students would require to finish a degree would cost more than enough to outweigh the savings.
There are obviously many mixed feelings about the Tuition Stability Act, but Dr. Smith strives first and foremost to clear any misconceptions in the name of helping UTM.
“We are hopeful in the remaining stages of deliberation about this bill that we can correct the facts and provide the compelling arguments to defeat this harmful piece of legislation,” said Dr. Smith.