Raines said tuition increase inevitable
Published: Friday, March 17, 2006
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 22:11
For those students who think The University of Memphis is responsible for continually raising tuition, Shirley Raines, president of The U of M, said that's not the case.
"The process is that The U of M does not set its own tuition, the Tennessee Board of Regents sets the tuition," she said.
Raines said that the TBR sets the tuition after they are charged by the legislature. The Board acts as a governing board for all Tennessee schools, except for University of Tennessee's schools.
"The things that affect their decisions are how much money the legislature is appropriating, and that percentage of the amount given compared the total amount it costs to run the school has been going down steadily since 1997," Raines said.
With a smaller percentage of operating funds given to the school each year, Raines said that The University has to come up with the money somehow.
"There's less coming from the state, so if we want to continue to operate with the same number of students, we have to generate more resources," she said.
Sharon Hayes, the director of budgeting at The U of M, said that The University is trying to raise funds outside of increasing tuition.
"There are a number of efforts underway to increase external revenues, such as sponsored research and fundraising," Hayes said. "The latter would include support for student scholarships."
Raines added that besides tuition, any of the goods and services on campus that generate revenue also help with the school's funding.
Another factor in increasing the tuition, besides the decrease in money for higher education that is appropriated by the state legislature, is other requirements placed on The University.
According to Raines, Gov. Phil Bredesen has mandated that there be a two percent salary increase across the board for all faculty members.
She said that inflation also leads to tuition increases.
"All of us, for instance, have seen a substantial increase in energy costs, and you can imagine that is a huge bill for The University," Raines said. "We don't get to defer that - we have to pay it."
As far as making The U of M more energy efficient, Hayes said the school is planning "several energy efficiency initiatives."
Despite tuition hikes at The U of M, Raines said that The University is still within the average tuition of other schools in the area.
"While our tuition and fees are higher every year, we are still staying at about the average of the Southern region," she said. "We are certainly trying to deliver as good a quality as others, if not better."
Raines said that the legislature will vote on the budget sometime in May or June, and the Tennessee Board of Regents will have their summer board meeting on June 29 to discuss the tuition increase. Although Raines said that she encourages the chancellor to get the process completed as soon as possible, sometimes the tuition increases can go into effect at the last minute.
"One year we didn't even know until a couple of days before school started, but we would like to know as soon as possible so the students will know and so we can adjust everything," she said.
Although Raines said that keeping tuition low for students is a priority, the quality of The University is an equally important priority.
"It's also a priority not to cut classes, and not to lay off tenured faculty and those kinds of things," she said. "Our plan is to keep it as low as possible while maintaining our quality and paying our bills."
Raines said that it is unclear how much tuition will be increased in the fall, but she said that there will be an increase of some kind.
"My anticipation is that it will be increased because of the appropriations," she said.