UT students question where all their tuition money goes

UT students question where all their tuition money goes

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The cost of getting an education at the University of Tennessee has been rising every year recently. Many students want to know where all this additional money is going. The cost of getting an education at the University of Tennessee has been rising every year recently. Many students want to know where all this additional money is going.
Some students feel most of their tuition is going to construction of new buildings on campus. Some students feel most of their tuition is going to construction of new buildings on campus.
"What I think will make us a top 25 public university is being better professors, better education, not how our campus looks," said junior Collin Thompson. "What I think will make us a top 25 public university is being better professors, better education, not how our campus looks," said junior Collin Thompson.
UT senior Taylor Hawthorn, who pays for a majority of her schooling with student loans, ignores her growing debt. UT senior Taylor Hawthorn, who pays for a majority of her schooling with student loans, ignores her growing debt.
UT Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Chris Cimino says only a small percentage of tuition covers the cost of new buildings. UT Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Chris Cimino says only a small percentage of tuition covers the cost of new buildings.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The cost of getting an education at the University of Tennessee has been rising every year recently.          

There was a 12 percent tuition increase in 2011. Then in 2012, students saw an eight percent increase, and then again in 2013, students saw a six percent increase.          

Many students want to know where all this additional money is going.          

Students like UT junior Collin Thompson, who has no financial assistance, feel most of their tuition is going to construction of new buildings on campus.

"What I think will make us a top 25 public university is being better professors, better education, not how our campus looks," said Thompson.

He is counting every penny his family spends on his education.  

"Two years ago, we paid $1,600 less for the same education that I'm receiving today," he said.

UT senior Taylor Hawthorn, who pays for a majority of her schooling with student loans, ignores her growing debt.

"I don't want it to make me sick, because I know if I sat down, and I looked at the numbers, I probably would get increasingly more frustrated," said Hawthorn.

The students 6 News spoke with said they were not really sure where their money was going, so we took their concerns to university officials.

"Tuition, while it has been going up, we still rank in the lower third with our peers where tuition is," said UT Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Chris Cimino. "We still feel we are a very good buy compared to our peer institutions."

Cimino broke down exactly what an incoming in-state freshman pays.

  • Instruction - 39 percent - $4,373
  • Programs and Services - 13 percent - $1,414
  • Academic Support - 12 percent - $1,289
  • Operation/Maintenance - 11 percent - $1,250
  • Scholarships/Fellowships - eight percent -$894
  • Institutional Support - six percent - $722
  • Student Services - six percent - $690
  • Research - three percent - $379
  • Public Service - two percent - $184
  • Total - 100 percent - $11,194

A large portion of the increase has been going to faculty salaries.

"We had four years from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 with nothing in terms of salary increases," said Cimino.

Cimino says only a small percentage of tuition covers the cost of new buildings.

"We cover construction through state funds, as well as through donor funds," he said.    

$1.7 million of the tuition increases have actually been filtered into the strategic instruction fund. The fund was started at UT two years ago to better students educations and is used primarily to provide more classes to help students graduate in four years.

"We are not just investing specifically adding sections," said UT Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Sally McMillan. "We are also investing in helping our faculty stay current on ways to teach."

McMillan says so far, they have been able to add more Spanish and English classes to help freshmen have better access to those courses.

"We are actually spending time right now looking ahead to next fall to try to determine how many sections of which classes we are going to need for next year's freshmen, and making sure we know what we need, and get the lecturers hired to be able to teach those courses," she said.

The remainder of the increases go to fixed costs. Those costs continue to rise each year.

Students say even with these answers, it is still difficult to swallow the cost of getting an education at UT.

"It gets a little bit complicated when you are trying to figure out, especially for students like me who are pursing grad school," said Hawthorn, "Like 'Oh my gosh, how am I going to pay for this?'"    

University officials say support from state funding has helped them keep tuition costs lower than other schools.     

Governor Bill Haslam allotted $35.5 million in higher education funding earlier this year. UT received $7 million of that money.     

Cimino also said there is no way to rule out additional tuition increases in the future.

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