UTC Enrollment Falls 1.5%
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — After two unusual years during the COVID-19 pandemic, things are beginning to look normal again at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The campus features fewer masks and restrictions, but it also features fewer students.
Overall enrollment fell by one point five percent this year.
“The decrease of roughly one hundred and thirty-two students FTE translates to a budget shortfall of just under two million dollars, and this is a problem that we will fix with one-time budget reductions this year,” said Chancellor Steve Angle.
According to Angle, the drop in enrollment is the result of students choosing to join the workforce, and it’s easy to see why this might be the case.
The average price of rent in Chattanooga is over a thousand dollars.
The average tuition at UTC is nearly ten thousand dollars a semester.
And according to MIT’s living wage calculator, a single adult needs to make at fourteen dollars and sixty-five cents an hour to support themselves in Chattanooga.
That’s assuming you don’t have children and you’re not paying out of pocket for education.
“Times are tough right now. It’s perfectly understandable that students want to remain in the workforce, especially to pay bills. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford college,” said Mason Edwards, a UTC student.
But those who are enrolled at UTC largely feel they’ve made the right decision.
“I came here not knowing who I was or who I wanted to be, and just, you know, being here, having the support of the faculty and staff, it’s just incredible,” said Edwards.
In some cases, the scholarships UTC offers made it a worthwhile endeavor.
“I was thinking about going to a trade school before this and then I looked at how much money I was getting to go here, and it just kind of sealed the deal for me,” said Carter, a UTC student.
And it remains true that a college degree increases your potential wages in the long term.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly wages of degree holders are nearly forty percent higher than the wages of people with high-school diplomas.