Freshmen at the University of Tennessee this fall are averaging the most strenuous course load in recent memory — roughly 15.1 credit hours each.

Officials credit the rise to a new tuition model that charges new full-time students for 15 credit hours instead of 12, the previous standard.

"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," said Sally McMillan,vice provost for academic affairs. "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."

The new model is being grandfathered in. That means freshmen are charged for two additional courses — one each semester — and paying $1,510 more than their upperclassmen counterparts this year, regardless of how many courses they're actually taking.

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