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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– The University of Tennessee should keep its ranking as a “best buy” in higher education if UT’s board of trustees approve a 3 percent fee increase, a UT vice president said Wednesday.

UT Executive Vice President Eli Fly said the 3 percent increase, combined with last year’s 3 percent hike represents the lowest back-to-back percentage increases in 19 years.

UT-Knoxville has for the last two years been rated by U.S. News & World Report as a top ten “best buy” among the nation’s colleges and universities.

The board’s finance committee approved and sent to the full board for action Thursday a 3 percent increase for in-state undergraduates at UT campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin. The proposed increase would generate about $3.1 million in new revenue to support scholarships and operating costs in the university’s $991 million budget.

“A commitment to holding down operating expenses has made it possible for UT to continue providing a quality education at a reasonable cost to students and parents,” Fly said. “We are pleased that U.S. News & World Report has recognized the Knoxville campus for the last two years in its best buy rankings, and we hope to be there again this fall.”

Fee increases approved by the finance committee range from no increase for in-state students in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy to 10 percent for out-of-state graduate students in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine.

Fly told the board that if all fee recommendations are approved by the board UT would still be substantially below averages for schools in the Southeast.

The proposed in-state fee increases are:

*Undergraduates Chattanooga, Knoxville and Martin, graduate nursing students at UT-Memphis, and veterinary medicine, 3 percent.

*Graduate students at Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, 5 percent.

*Law, 7 percent.

Out-of-state fee proposals:

*Undergraduates and graduate students at Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, and graduate nursing students at UT-Memphis, 5 percent.

*Law, 8 percent.

*Medicine, dentistry and pharmacy at UT-Memphis, and veterinary medicine, 10 percent.

An in-state student at UT-Knoxville would pay $1,950, an additional $56 over current maintenance fees. At UT-Chattanooga, the new figure is $1,790($76), and $1,790 ($52) at UT-Martin.

The proposed increase at UT-Chattanooga includes a student service fee to expand student health programs, to promote gender equity in athletics and provide a fiber optic link to residence halls and classrooms, Fly said.