Promises, promises

Tennessee Tech blames Tennessee Promise for lower enrollments and the resulting budget cuts. TTU ended up cutting 19 positions, none of them teaching positions. From The Herald-Citizen.

For the second fiscal year in a row, Tennessee Tech University is anticipating budget cuts of more than $3.5 million. 
The cuts are because of the state Tennessee Promise program that went into effect in 2015, guaranteeing two years of community college education at no cost for qualified students. Many students who might have started in four-year colleges have instead spent those first two years at the community college level. 
Karen Lykins, associate vice president of communications and marketing, said the university uses predictive modeling data from past years to build its $168 million budget each year. 
The free community college program created an unprecedented situation that turned Tech’s predictive modeling process on its side. 
“We’ve never lived through Tennessee Promise before,” Lykins said. 
The university has lost revenue because declining enrollment brought in less tuition dollars. 
“Tennessee Tech’s unrestricted budget is predominantly tuition-based, with more than 70 percent of the university’s revenue coming from tuition,” said President Phil Oldham. “This makes us susceptible to fluctuations in enrollment.” 
To attract more students in a time of decreasing enrollment, Tech has increased its university-funded scholarship commitments for the 2017-18 fiscal year. 
“We want to be prepared to honor every single scholarship that has been offered,” Lykins said. 
However, the unanticipated lost revenue from tuition dollars and the increase in scholarship commitments will likely result in a $2.6 million shortfall. 
Last week, Tech’s associate vice president of enrollment management Bobby Hodum unexpectedly resigned, creating a wave of concern that Tech’s workforce might be on the chopping block. 


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