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Regents Approve New Tuition Rates For University System

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Goal Is To Maintain Educational Quality, Access and Affordability For Students

Atlanta — May 20, 2003

In an effort to maintain accessibility, students in the University System of Georgia will see a nominal tuition increase at the state’s 13 two-year colleges of just $33 per semester.

The Committee on Finance and Business Operations approved tuition rates today for the Fall 2003 Semester. The action will not be final until it is voted on by the full Board of Regents at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday morning (May 21).

Based on the increased demand and operational costs of the state’s regional and state universities, the Board of Regents approved an increase at these institutions of $101 per semester, while the four major state research universities - where nearly 35 percent of the University System’s students are enrolled in some of the highest-cost academic programs - still will see an increase of only $209 per semester.

The low increases are aimed at maintaining the state colleges and universities as affordable access points for all Georgians to gain a high-quality postsecondary education via the 34-campus University System of Georgia. The increases also position the research universities within a pricing structure that better reflects that of their regional and national peers.

The Regents’ actions also are aimed at maintaining the high level of educational quality achieved in recent years in the University System by balancing other operating revenues with tuition needs.

“The tuition rates approved by the board will help us maintain quality educational programs in the face of high demand for our services,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “But despite these necessary increases, in-state undergraduate tuition in Georgia’s public colleges and universities still remains low when compared against our regional and national peers.”

In presenting the proposed tuition rates and proposed mandatory fees to the Board, Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs William R. Bowes pointed out that currently, Georgia ranks 12th among the 15 states of the Southern Regional Education Board in tuition and fees at four-year colleges and universities. “Projected percentage tuition increases for many states are in the double digits,” he said. Tuition increases nationally range from 8-10 percent in Oklahoma, almost 40 percent in Arizona, 9.5-18 percent in Kentucky, 15 percent in Minnesota and 18-25 percent in Nebraska.

“The situation facing Georgia is not unlike that facing public higher education across the country,” Meredith said. “As state budgets have been squeezed, public colleges and universities have seen their state appropriations reduced as other needs compete for limited dollars. For example, for FY04, the University System of Georgia is operating on $56 million fewer state dollars than we had in FY03 - yet we had a record high enrollment in both the fall 2002 and spring 2003 semesters.”

Meredith wants to preserve increasing academic quality in the USG, such as its role as only one of three states with two or more universities ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing of the top 20 public universities nationally. Georgia Tech ranks ninth and the University of Georgia is ranked 18th.

Effective for the Fall 2003 semester, Georgia residents will pay the following tuition rates:

  • Tuition at the two-year colleges will increase by only $33 per semester (or $66 per year) over the previous year, from $666 to $699.
  • At the USG’s two state colleges (Dalton State College and Macon State College), tuition will increase by only $3 per credit-hour for lower-division courses (or $59 per semester hour vs. last year’s $56), while the rate for upper-division courses at the state colleges will increase by only $9 per credit-hour (or $93 per hour vs. last year’s $84).
  • Tuition at the regional universities, state universities, and four-year colleges will increase by $101 per semester (or $202 per year) over the previous year, from $1,005 to $1,106.
  • At the USG’s four research universities, tuition will increase by $209 per semester (or $418 per year) over the previous year, from $1,395 to $1,604.

At Georgia College & State University and Southern Polytechnic State University, students will see a 15 percent tuition increase to maintain the special mission purpose of those two institutions. GC&SU is the state’s only public liberal arts university and Southern Poly is a leader nationally in engineering technology.

The Board of Regents also will continue its implementation of “differential tuition” policies, which allow for out-of-state tuition to be charged at four times that of in-state tuition, and graduate tuition to be charged at a rate of 20 percent higher than undergraduate tuition. This policy also enables fair market pricing for “nationally competitive” graduate and professional programs.

In addition to setting the Fiscal Year 2004 tuition rates, the board received 51 mandatory student fee requests to adjust athletic, student activity, health services and transportation or parking fees, of which 27 were approved as submitted, and 13 approved at reduced levels. Eleven fee requests were not approved.

The Board of Regents’ Finance and Business Operations Committee also took action on the allocation of the System’s $1.68 billion FY’04 state appropriation to the System’s 34 institutions, presented by Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs Dr. Daniel S. Papp and Bowes.

The cumulative budget reduction, including a carry forward reduction of $183.5 million from FY2003 is $211 million for FY’04 or 12.2 percent. In fact, for FY’04, the system’s share of the state budget is 11.3 percent, the lowest level since 1967.

However, there were new dollars in the FY’04 budget, primarily $88 million in new funds generated by enrollment-related increases. These additions mean the net reduction in the FY’04 Budget is 3.23 percent, or $56 million. from the FY’03 Budget.

“Just because budgets are tight, we are not going to let our drive to enhance quality in the University System diminish,” Meredith said. “Today, as never before, Georgia needs a high-quality system of public higher education that can help the state and its citizens prepare for the future and prosper economically.”

The University System is exhibiting its emphasis on quality in the strategic allocation of funding received to accommodate new student enrollment. While 80 percent of budgeted revenue will be allocated to the campuses based on the System’s “funding formula,” the remaining 20 percent will be allocated to programs that improve the retention and graduation rates of students, as well as programs that focus on quality and efficiency.

New campus facilities also were accommodated in the budget, with $72 million in bonds for the construction of a major project at Georgia Southern University ($20.5 million); $2.5 million in design funds for a project at the University of Georgia; $4.76 million in funds for equipment at six previously funded projects; $13.5 million for smaller projects on three campuses; and $10.9 million for projects at the Medical College of Georgia, Coastal Georgia Community College and the Burke County Library.

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