Regents Maintain Single-Digit Tuition Increase for 2005-2006
Full Funding of Enrollment Formula Mitigates Need for Larger Increase
Atlanta — April 19, 2005
Thanks to the recommendation of Gov. Sonny Purdue and the full funding of the University System of Georgia’s funding formula by the General Assembly for the 2005-2006 Fiscal Year, the University System of Georgia has averted a double-digit tuition increase.
The funding formula drives the USG’s budget appropriation by the General Assembly, providing the necessary monies to address student enrollment growth, thereby reducing a heavier reliance on tuition to meet increased operating costs. For the upcoming fiscal year, the University System has received $103.4 million in new formula dollars, which helped to mitigate the size of this year’s tuition increase.
Accordingly, USG students will experience tuition increases of $37, $58 and $135 per semester during the coming year, depending on whether they attend a two-year college, a four-year university or a research institution. The increase translates to between 5 percent and 8 percent (at the research universities only), during a period when tuition increases nationally continue to soar, with the median increase in the South last year reaching 10.6 percent for four-year colleges and universities and 20% for two-year colleges.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia’s Committee on Finance and Business Operations approved the new tuition rates this afternoon, while conducting their meeting at Armstrong Atlantic State University. The full Board of Regents will take final action tomorrow, voting to increase undergraduate, resident tuition at the University System’s four research universities by $135 per semester; tuition at the regional and state universities by $58 per semester; and tuition at the two-year colleges by $37 per semester.
The increases reflect a three-pronged tuition strategy put forward by the chancellor and senior USG officials for 2005-2006. The strategy is emphasized on increasing the number of full-time faculty among all three sectors of the University System. In addition, the strategy includes:
- Promoting admissions access and keeping tuition low to ensure affordability at the two-year colleges;
- Helping the System’s regional and state universities remain competitive regionally; and
- Fostering national competitiveness at the System’s four research universities.
During the 2005-2006 academic year, tuition will generate approximately $43.6 million in revenue – based on actual enrollment – to meet these goals.
“We pressed hard to keep tuition well below the double-digit mark, and our funding partners helped us achieve that goal,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “The Governor and the General Assembly responded to our needs by fully funding the enrollment growth formula, and that allowed us to alleviate the impact of the tuition increase. We are grateful the state’s tax revenues are rebounding, and for the support we are receiving as those additional funds are redirected to higher education.”
The regents committee acted upon the tuition recommendation after hearing a comprehensive presentation outlining the “2005-2006 Budget Allocations, Tuition, Fees and Salary Policy.” Chancellor Meredith joined with the Board of Regents’ Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs William Bowes and Vice Chancellor for Facilities Linda Daniels in delivering the presentation, which will receive the full board’s final action on Wednesday morning.
During that presentation, Bowes reported that the University System had received a total of $1.8 billion in total funding, which included $1.56 billion in total formula funding, $28.5 million in new funds to annualize last year’s 2 percent salary increase which went into effect January, 2005, and the 2 percent merit salary increase that will become effective this January for faculty and staff; and an additional $29.8 million in new funding to support the USG’s Special Funding Initiatives. Chancellor Meredith noted that among a list of specific priorities, he recommended that $1.6 million of the newly received funding be directed toward the start up of the new state college in Gwinnett County.
“Overall, we received an 8.5 percent increase in our operating budget this year,” Bowes stated. “This is the largest increase the University System has received in the past nine years. This will allow us to begin to recover from the tremendous fiscal strain under which our campuses have been operating. These funds will go a long way in helping us meet the many priorities we face that had to be sacrificed during the budget cuts.”
In reporting on the Capital Budget, Daniels indicated that the System had received a total $133.5 million in funding to meets it FY 2006 capital priorities, with the largest amount of those funds ($50.6 million) being directed to Major Repair and Rehabilitation projects on USG campuses. Major projects received a total of $13.2 million in funding, $6.2 million of that in the FY 2005 Amended Budget, and $7.0 million in the FY 2006 Budget. Those funds will provide the needed monies to design projects at Fort Valley State University, Georgia College & State University, Georgia State University, Macon State College, North Georgia College & State University, Savannah State University, the University of West Georgia, and the University of Georgia. An additional $7.8 million was allocated to reauthorize three projects that had been approved in Fiscal Year 2005, but later deferred, including new and renovated facilities and infrastructure for South Georgia College, Gordon College and Southern Polytechnic State University.
Ten minor capital projects received nearly $39 million in funding, with an additional $17.3 million allocated to other capital needs throughout the University System. Capital projects already underway are slated to receive $3.89 million in equipment funding. Five capital projects within the Georgia Public Library System will receive $7.88 million in funding.
Meredith told the Board of Regents that the FY 2006 Budget reflects a strong reinvestment by the state in the University System of Georgia and in public higher education. “We represent 11.6 percent of the total current state budget,” he stated, “and while that is not a record, it is a tremendous turnaround. Given the current size of the state budget, and the demands upon it, this is an important increase – and we intend to put it to good use, meeting the needs of hundreds of thousands of students.”