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VOL. 40 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 11, 2016

Bills to freeze tuition at colleges, universities defeated

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Bills that would have frozen tuition rates at Tennessee's public colleges and universities have been defeated.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said at the beginning of the session Wednesday that he was in favor of the idea. The University of Tennessee in particular was a vocal opponent, complaining that steep tuition hikes were the result of dramatic decreases in state funding and increasing education costs.

On Wednesday, members of the House Education and Administration and Planning Subcommittee voted down a bill that would allow students to pay the same tuition for all four years in college, and any major tuition hike would have had to gain unanimous approval by the school's government board.

The Tuition Stability Act was sponsored by Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville.

Later in the day, Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, pulled a bill that he and Gresham sponsored that would also freeze tuition. That measure would allow students to keep education costs stable, but they would have to take at least 15 hours of credit each semester and maintain satisfactory academic progress.

Smith vowed to bring the bill up again next year.

According to the nonprofit College Board, the 54 percent increase over five years at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville was the highest rate among flagship public universities in the country.

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