published Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

UT says new tuition model paying off

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Officials at the University of Tennessee say a new tuition model that charges new students for 15 credit hours instead of 12 is paying off in more ways than one.

Sally McMillan, vice provost for academic affairs told the Knoxville News Sentinel that more freshmen have signed up this year to take 15 credit hours per semester. She said the tuition model change stems in part from a desire to see students graduate in four years.

"The fact that students were motivated to take the 15 (hours) and we were able to make sure they got 15 (hours) is a good sign," McMillan said. "But we're changing the norm. We're changing the expectation that students need to be taking 15 hours a semester, so our hope is going forward we don't have to have much conversation around that. But (instead), they come in with the expectation of what classes they're going to take and getting the 15 hours scheduled."

Returning full-time students pay for 12 credit hours per semester no matter how many classes they take. The change applies only to new students.

In addition to more strenuous course loads, UT is gaining extra revenue, which makes it possible to add sections to popular "bottleneck" courses such as English 101 and Psychology 110.

"We have a variety of different mechanisms, using data as well as qualitative input, to be able to monitor where we need to be adding sections, and then use money to add those sections," McMillan said. "We do that as early as we can so we can get instructors, lecturers or faculty workload assignments figured out."

Nashville freshman Mel Scott said she's paying for one credit hour she's not signed up for, but she's OK with that because she still feels like she's getting a good education for the price.

"It's one of those things where there's no point in being mad about it," she said. "As long as I'm aware that my money is going to good things."

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