This fall, students embarked on a different kind of "freshman 15."
All first-year students are now required to pay for 15 course hours, regardless of the actual hours taken per semester. This action reflects UT's new 15-4 tuition model.
The 15-4 tuition model pushes freshmen, transfer and readmitted students to enroll for 15 class credits each semester, raising the likelihood of graduation in four years.
But this initiative has not been met without resistance.
"This semester I had to take less hours, because I have to take the hardest class I'll ever have to take for my degree. I really wanted a lighter load, so if I was forced to pay for 15 hours I really wouldn't want to pay for that," said Ameena Stanley, a junior in nursing. "I would have felt obligated to take more hours, but that would really risk my GPA and possibly have me failing a class that was really important."
According to the website for One Stop, UT's hub for financial aid, registration and records assistance, the change emerged due to many scholarships ending after four years.
An extra year at UT adds $24,000 more in overall cost for a degree, based on the estimated cost of attendance from 2012-13.
Maximizing class hours is meant to help students complete their degree without an added financial burden, propelling graduates into the workforce without the weight of loans.
Julian Kahann, a sophomore in computer science, is not so sure. After an experience with a mobility-limiting injury, Kahann said she feels requiring 15 hours is too far-reaching.
"It was kind of actually nice to have a lighter class load, so I'm generally all for freedoms and having the option to take as much as whatever I want to, but as long as it doesn't cause too much of a detriment to the university," Kahann said. "So personally I feel like it should be encouraged, but not required."
Although the 15-4 tuition model is part of UT's Top 25 initiative, UT was recently ranked 47th among all public universities, according to U.S. News and World Report's 2014 rankings. Falling one spot from last year, the descent is primarily attributed to a 59.8 percent graduation rate.
Despite widespread discontent, Krishen Gosine, a freshman in computer science, said the new tuition model could be beneficial.
"The 15 and 4 model is a good model to promote taking a good number of credit hours per semester and obtaining your credit hours for your degree," Gosine said. "I know throughout college, sometimes people struggle to finish in their typical four-year plan and the 15 and 4 segments (put) it in a good, unique, organized plan to get a lot of people set on that track of the four-year undergraduate degree."