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KNOXVILLE — Money from proposed hikes in University of Tennessee tuition will be used to cover higher fixed costs, a letter to the UT board from the vice president for budget and finance says.

The board of trustees and its finance committee will meet here Wednesday to consider the fee increases. The finance committee meeting is set for 12:30 p.m. in 800 Andy Holt Tower, with a full board session to follow.

If adopted by the board, in-state undergraduate students at Chattanooga, Knoxville and Martin would pay 15 percent higher maintenance fees. At Knoxville that would be an increase of $422, up to $3,234 a year.

“Funds generated from new student fee revenues will be first used to cover fixed costs,” UT Vice President Sylvia Shannon Davis says in the letter to the trustees. As examples, she cites higher utility and maintenance costs, brought about by inflation and by bringing renovated buildings back into service.

The state budget calls for 2.5 percent pay increases for state and university employees but doesn’t provide UT all the dollars needed to pay them, she says.

UT officials fear that state funds could be cut further.

“We are concerned about the fragility of the budget passed and the possibility that appropriations are subject to reduction prior to the end of FY (fiscal year) 2002,” Davis says.

“Furthermore, there is no reason at this time to believe that funding for FY 2003 will improve unless the state finds a way to increase revenues significantly. The available revenues need to be allocated with these caveats in mind — we must think toward the future as we support the needs of today.”

Davis says reduction or elimination of programs, enrollment caps, a hiring freeze and a delay in non-essential purchases may be necessary.

State residents in graduate school at Knoxville will pay 8 percent, or $138, more. Law, medicine and dentistry students face a 15 percent increase, while the recommendation for veterinary medicine is 10 percent higher.

Pharmacy students at the Health Science Center in Memphis would pay 25 percent more.

Note: See sidebar “2002 Fee Recommendations” for the PDF copy of letter to Board of Trustees.