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Tennessee college students and their parents can begin bracing for another tuition increase next fall.

Gov. Phil Bredesen unveiled his nearly $28 billion "back to basics" budget last week.

The governor's financial plan increases need-based student aid by $27 million, a nearly 50 percent boost; partially funds a 2 percent pay raise for all state employees, including college faculty and staff; and would help students hold on to their lottery-based Hope scholarships.
Tennessee college students and their parents can begin bracing for another tuition increase next fall.

Gov. Phil Bredesen unveiled his nearly $28 billion "back to basics" budget last week.

The governor's financial plan increases need-based student aid by $27 million, a nearly 50 percent boost; partially funds a 2 percent pay raise for all state employees, including college faculty and staff; and would help students hold on to their lottery-based Hope scholarships.

But the governor stripped a Tennessee Higher Education Commission recommendation from last November for about $85 million in new money for state college and university operations.

The commission, which oversees the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee systems, anticipates that absent a legislative push for new college money this spring, at least some of those dollars will have to be made up in tuition increases.

"We are in a tight budget this year," Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker said. "The governor has put forth a proposal that he feels covers all the basic needs that need to be met. He is not doing all the things that he would like to do.

"It will be incumbent upon the schools to look at their bottom lines and maybe revisit them, and see what they should or shouldn't do."

Tuition would jump 5 percent to 7 percent, or $200 to $284 more annually. THEC suggested no tuition increases for community colleges and technical schools. (Knoxville News Sentinel, Jan. 31, 2008)

At Vanderbilt University, where annual tuition averages $34,500, you can pay zilch to listen to 13 lectures on nonviolent struggle from the Rev. James Lawson, a civil rights pioneer.

Just go to iTunes U, an area on the iTunes music store devoted to college-produced content, to watch or download for later.

It's just one of the ways academic institutions are using technology to not only enhance the classroom but also to reach past their brick-and-mortar walls to the greater public. Online classes, blogs, video and audio podcasts this is a new frontier of establishing a niche in the virtual world.

"The benefit is it shares what's happening every day on our campus with a really global audience," said Melanie Moran, Vanderbilt's assistant director for Web communication. "And people who might not know very much about Vanderbilt can now get a really clear picture of all that the university has to offer on their own time and when they want to watch or listen."

Moran estimates the school's online video archive stretches back to at least 2003, and perhaps a year or two earlier.

Vanderbilt's digital nuggets are scattered across a variety of platforms, including the Vanderbilt Web site, BlogVU, the wildly popular video-sharing site YouTube and iTunes U.

Recent examples include an address from Nobel Peace Prize winner and Vandy alumnus Muhammad Yunus, footage of the school's Fastest Geek computer-building contest and an insider's guide to admissions from the dean of admissions himself, Douglas Christiansen. (The Tennessean, Jan. 25, 2008)

Higher education leaders in Tennessee have agreed to add service-learning programs to their institutions, hoping to spark a love of community service in college students.

Representatives from many of the state's colleges and universities met at Tennessee State University on Jan. 17 to begin formalizing plans to adopt the Tennessee Campus Compact. This compact will become the 33rd of its kind in the country, joining other colleges and universities committed to implementing service learning in their institutions.

Service learning is a teaching technique that integrates academic instruction and hands-on community service.

"We've all realized that we need to form this coalition so students will participate in service learning and actively utilize what they learn in the classroom in the real world," TSU President Melvin Johnson said. (The Tennessean, Jan. 25, 2008)