TN raises community college, tech tuition 9.5% - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TN raises community college, tech tuition 9.5%

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- James Kyle has taken his son Hunter, 10 and daughter Autumn, 6, on a tour of Chattanooga State Community College, to impart some lessons in life; his and theirs.

"The only downside to education is not having one," says Kyle. "I'm 38-years-old now, so it's time to embark on a second career."

Kyle wants to move from hospitality, into a hospital, training as a radiological technologist.

But first, he's getting a math quiz worthy of an accounting course; now that the Board of Regents has raised tuition 9.5% for all Tennessee community colleges and technology centers, which could mean an extra $132 per semester for the father of two.

"Most people are gonna try to find a way to make it work," says Kyle. "But you will see fewer people going to school. There'll be more of a need to find a job."

Tuition is rising for all of Tennessee higher education; at least 8 percent to as much as 11 percent, depending upon the institution. The hikes come on top of near-record growth for almost all of Tennessee's community colleges and technology centers.

More than 12,000 students were enrolled at Chattanooga State or the Tennessee Technology Center this year, a 26.8% jump over the past four years. This coming year, tuition will run $3,042 for full-time students, about $678 more than in 2007.

"Our financial aid office is very aggressive and very creative," says Jeff Olingy, Vice President for Economic Development.

Olingy adds, "Folks are coming here because they want to gain employment with a Volkswagen. Or a Wacker. Or Amazon, or all the other businesses that are growing and expanding in the area. And I think they look at that additional cost as in investment in their futures."

Tony Harper is among them. He's enrolled in a program to earn a Commercial Driver's License to operate long and short-haul trucks. But that doesn't make budgeting any easier.

"Grants are impossible," says Harper. "Loan? Oh, good grief, they're expensive!"

He plans to live it up a little less, and continue to focus on the long-term. That CDL gets him one step closer to starting a computer networking business with his son, Anthony.

"I mean, I have children and grandchildren; you have to set an example," says Harper. "And they have to learn--sometimes you just bite the bullet and keep going."

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