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University System Implements Guaranteed Tuition

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Regents Approve New Tuition Policy and Fiscal Year 2007 Budget

Atlanta — April 18, 2006

Beginning this fall, new freshmen students enrolling in the University System of Georgia’s 35 colleges and universities will pay a guaranteed tuition rate aimed at providing tuition stability and encouraging their “on-time” graduation.

New students entering the System’s four-year universities will pay a guaranteed rate for four years, and those entering the System’s two-year colleges will pay a guaranteed rate for three years.

The new tuition policy was approved today by the Board of Regents. Also approved by the regents were mandatory student fees and the University System’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget, which begins on July 1.

The guaranteed tuition plan – a first in the University System’s history – will fix tuition for four years at the System’s research universities (Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, the Medical College of Georgia, and the University of Georgia) at $1,946 per semester for new, incoming students.

Tuition at the University System’s two regional and 13 state universities will be $1,280 per semester for the fall 2006 entering class.

Freshmen entering the System’s 12 two-year colleges this fall will see a guaranteed tuition of $802 per semester for three years. University System officials note the three-year guarantee accommodates the high number of non-traditional students who enroll at two-year colleges, generally on a part-time basis, and thus take longer to graduate.

“Our new tuition strategy should strongly encourage students to graduate in a timely manner,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis. “The guaranteed rate will allow students and families to plan for college expenses with a high degree of certainty and in the process, save money on a college education.”

Davis noted the new policy creates a financial incentive to spur more students to graduate within four years. As a result, space may be freed up for new students, lessening the need for future capital projects.

Current and continuing students in the System will experience a modest tuition increase for fall 2006. Students currently enrolled at the research universities will see a tuition increase of 5 percent, or $91 per semester, making the new rate $1,910 per semester. Students at regional and state universities will see an increase of 4 percent, or $49 per semester, for a total rate of $1,268 per semester. Tuition at the two-year colleges will increase only 3 percent, or $23 per semester, to $794 per semester.

“The combination of guaranteed tuition for new students and modest tuition increases for existing students reflects the System’s commitment to maintaining affordable public higher education,” said Davis. “We are committed to removing the financial barriers to educational access and attainment.”

Each year, the Board of Regents will approve a revised tuition rate for the entering class, to be guaranteed for that class for four years. The new tuition policy applies to all undergraduate students, and does not include mandatory fees or expenses for room and board.

Students who do not graduate in four years (or three years at the two-year colleges) can expect to pay a higher rate in the fifth year. While this rate must still be determined by System officials, Davis said “the goal will be to set the fifth-year rate at a level high enough to send a ‘price signal’ that will encourage students to move through the System more quickly.”

The Board also approved mandatory student fees for the University System’s institutions. Approval was given to 53 proposed fees at the requested amounts and 25 at levels below the requested amounts.

In addition to tuition and fees, the regents also approved the University System of Georgia’s new fiscal year budget and allocations to the System’s 35 institutions. The FY ‘07 budget recently adopted by the General Assembly provides a record-high $1.93 billion state appropriation to the System – a $120 million or 6.6 percent increase over the FY ‘06 state appropriation.

The appropriation encompasses: $1.67 billion in formula funds, or dollars driven by student enrollment figures; $32.4 million for a number of special funding initiatives; and $243 million for specific units such as the Agricultural Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension Service, and Georgia Public Library Services.

Chancellor Davis directed that $31.4 million of the $120 million in new state dollars be directed to programs supporting five policy objectives of the System. These five programs include:

  • Quality education: $24 million will be used to hire approximately 250 new faculty throughout the University System to add courses needed to accommodate student enrollment growth. Funds also will be used to provide essential support services for the additional students.

  • Enhance retention, progression, and graduation rates: $2.2 million will be allocated to five high-enrollment institutions determined by System officials as having the best opportunity for improving student retention, progression and graduation rates. The five universities selected to receive the funds are: Kennesaw State University, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, University of West Georgia, and Valdosta State University.

  • State nursing shortage: $2.3 million in new state dollars will be directed to on-going efforts aimed at producing additional graduates in the nursing professions. (See the related news release for additional details on this nursing initiative.)

  • Increase efficiency and productivity: $1.5 million will be allocated to improve productivity in the University System’s back-office operations, including student information systems, human resource applications and data-storage and data-sharing systems.

  • Georgia Gwinnett College: $3.1 million will be allocated to hire faculty, meet start-up operational costs, and to implement best practices at the University System’s newest institution, which will open its doors to junior-level students in fall 2006.

The board also put its stamp of approval on the state’s funding of $310 million in University System of Georgia facilities projects. Included are $89.3 million for four major projects at Georgia College & State University, Georgia State University, North Georgia College & State University, and the University of West Georgia; $87.1 million for 20 minor projects (projects costing $5 million and under to construct); $11.6 million for Georgia Public Library Services projects; $38 million for a nanotechnology project at the Georgia Institute of Technology; and $24 million in equipment and laboratory renovations for the Georgia Research Alliance.

Editor’s Note: View charts depicting the two new tuition structures (PDF)

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