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Lottery scholarships would intensify troubles of state universities say officials

February 25, 2002

Far from helping Tennessee's financially troubled universities, lottery-funded scholarships would hurt them by deluging them with students in numbers they're unprepared to handle. That seemed to be the collective view of higher education officials during a meeting of the House Education Committee last week.

“If we had more than 700 to 800 new students next year, we would be turning some away,” said UT president Eli Fly.

The problem is that the money would to students for scholarships, not to the colleges and universities, he says.

“We will get more students…but we won't have any money to educate them, to buy supplies and open laboratories.”

Lottery-funded scholarships have brought booming enrollments to Georgia through the state's Hope Scholarship Fund. Not every college was prepared for the influx. The University of Georgia is admitting only about 50 to 60 percent of its applicants, according to Fly, whose remarks were reported in the Feb. 20 edition of “The Tennessean.”

Fly also distributed charts showing that while average college salaries increased by 10.5 percent in Georgia between 1995 and 2,000, they fell by 3.3 percent in Tennessee.