NASHVILLE — WGU Tennessee, in partnership with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and UT Martin, is holding a panel discussion on affordability, responsible borrowing, and return on investment in higher education. The First Amendment Center in Nashville will host the public event on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. CDT.
Dr. Russ Deaton of the TBR, UT Martin chancellor Dr. Keith Carver, and Western Governors University’s (WGU) VP of Financial Aid, Bob Collins, will serve on the panel. The panelists’ respective organizations serve key roles in Gov. Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, and organized the forum to educate prospective students on earning degrees without incurring a lot of debt.
“As the cost of college continues to increase, all of us in higher education have an obligation to work toward making it more affordable,” said Collins. “We hope the panel empowers prospective students to take the next step by showing them that a quality education at an affordable cost is within reach.”
The panel’s media partner — The USA Today Network in Tennessee — will livestream the event on the home pages of its publications: The Tennessean, The Commercial Appeal, The Knoxville News Sentinel, The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, The Murfreesboro Daily News Journal and The Jackson Sun. David Plazas, opinion engagement editor for The Tennessean, will moderate the hour-long forum.
Collins will discuss, among other topics, what WGU is doing to encourage responsible borrowing. WGU Tennessee, the state affiliate of WGU, is an online, nonprofit university launched by Gov. Haslam as part of the Drive to 55. Collins oversees the university’s Responsible Borrowing Initiative — a program that has reduced student borrowing by 41 percent in only four years.
Deaton will address issues around Tennessee’s policy innovations designed to create a better-educated workforce, such as the Tennessee Promise and TN Reconnect scholarships. As the executive chancellor of policy and strategy for the TBR, and former director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, he has been closely involved with many of Tennessee’s policy innovations in higher education.
Prior to being named UT Martin’s chancellor, Carver served as executive assistant to UT President Joe DiPietro. He will share information about what UT Martin and the UT system are doing to increase access to higher education while keeping tuition increases at historic lows.
“For many Tennesseans, the biggest barrier to higher education is the cost,” said Deaton. “Tennessee has been an innovator in expanding access and affordability, but it’s incumbent on prospective students to inform themselves on the programs being offered in order get the best ROI.”