Parking on campus isn't just a service; it's a business.
Pulling in about $12.6 million every year, the UT transit department collects about $1.2 million in revenue from parking citations alone.
Although downtown Knoxville also poses challenges for drivers, UT issues twice as many tickets as the city. From February 2009 to January 2012 the university issued 175,642 tickets. Despite a larger population, the city of Knoxville issued a mere 8,996 tickets, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
These citations range from $24 to well over $200. If not paid within two weeks, those fines increase by 50 percent. Until paid, students cannot register for classes or receive their diploma.
Still, some students choose to park near campus without a permit, primarily due to cost. Parking permits run from $182 for commuters to $285 for non-commuters. Discounted permits are only available for motorcycle, sorority, fraternity and "evening" use.
Sophomore psychology major Sarah Brawner parks on Terrace Avenue and has never been ticketed.
"It's a walk to class, and sometimes it's hard to find a spot, but it's worth it not to pay for a pass," Brawner said. "There's a garage right there I could be paying to park in anyway."
Many students possessing permits find designated parking locations inconvenient. Generally located on the outskirts of campus, parking garages make pedestrian travel a way of life for UT students.
With such widespread construction on campus, parking has evolved over the last years. After the demolition of the UC parking garage in March 2012, the university lost 234 parking spaces.
However, as UT strives to make its campus more pedestrian friendly, plans have been made to improve parking.
A new parking garage at the Stokely Athletic site will add more than 1,000 parking spaces to the university's current 16,000. The project is expected to be completed in 2015.
Until then, the current parking permit to parking space ratio stands at 1:1.6.
Blake Davidson, a sophomore in mechanical engineering who has experienced difficulty with parking in the past, now prefers to walk and does not plan to purchase a permit again in the future.
"Living in the Fort, you don't really need one," Davidson said, "It's more of a pain than it's worth. If I lived across the bridge or down Alcoa, it might be something you need to have, but if I can walk, I will."
Lisa Swearingen, a junior nutrition major and commuter student, has used a permit for two years. Swearingen finds the arrangement of parking locations on campus illogical.
"You have to walk a long distance just so you can park your car," Sweringer said. "I know it's hard, but they should have planned it better."
Tickets can also be issued for other reasons, such as blocking fire lanes or simply parking in the "wrong" lot. But Zach Wall, a sophomore in chemical engineering, remains unconcerned.
"As long as you read the signs, you should be fine," Wall said. "They're not trying to trick you. You just have to pay attention."