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USG Tuition, While Up Slightly, Still “A Bargain”

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Modest Increases Will Maintain High-Quality Instruction, Help Offset Budget Cuts

Atlanta — April 16, 2002

Tuition rates for the 2003 Fiscal Year (July 1, 2002 - June 30, 2003) have been approved by the of the University System of Georgia, marking the first time in five years (since FY 1998) that the annual increase has been at or above 5 percent.

Responding to the need to maintain the quality of the University System’s academic programs, faculty instruction and personnel costs, and balancing against the series of budget cutbacks that were mandated by the state, the regents approved a two-tiered increase for the 34 colleges and universities. The board’s Committee on Finance and Business Operations, meeting as a Committee of the Whole, gave initial approval to the new tuition rates today. The final vote by the full board will be on Wednesday, April 17, during the regents meeting, currently being held on the campus of Kennesaw State University, in Kennesaw.

Next year – in spite of the budgetary demands – undergraduate and graduate tuition will increase a modest 6 percent at the research universities, while the 30 regional and state universities and two-year colleges will undergo a 4 percent increase. The result will be an overall 5 percent tuition increase. According to national data, Georgia’s tuition still falls far below the national average. During the 2001-02 academic year, for example, tuition increased nationally at public four-year universities by 7.1 percent, compared to only 3 percent in Georgia.

This is the second year that the has adopted differential tuition rates, based on a previous benchmarking study that evaluated the University System and its 34 institutions against a selected number of national peer institutions in a number of different areas, including state appropriations and tuition revenue. Last year, these findings supported a total tuition freeze at the System’s two-year colleges.

“The impact of the budget cuts on tuition is undeniable, yet attending a public college in Georgia is still an outstanding bargain,” said University System Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “In spite of the increases - which are required to keep pace with inflation and operating expenses in order to maintain quality – the University System maintains incredibly low tuition compared to its peers regionally and nationally. The investment made in higher education in this state has made that possible.”

Effective for the Fall 2002 semester, University System tuition rates for Georgia residents are:

  • At the two-year colleges, undergraduate tuition will increase by only $26 per semester (or $52 per year) from the previous year, from $640 to $666.
  • At the regional universities, state universities, and four-year colleges, undergraduate tuition will increase by only $39 per semester (or $78 per year) from the previous year, from $966 to $1,005.
  • Undergraduates attending the two state colleges will pay the two-year tuition rate for lower-division courses (or $56 per semester hour vs. last year’s $53) and the state colleges and universities’ rate for upper-division courses (or $84 per hour vs. last year’s $81).
  • Undergraduate tuition at the four research universities will increase from $1,316 to $1,395 per semester, a $79 difference over last year (or $158 a year).
  • Undergraduates at Georgia College & State University - the University’s System’s nationally recognized public liberal-arts university - also will see a 4 percent increase of $39 per semester, taking their base tuition to $1,005 (up from $966). Students also will continue paying a surcharge of $300 per semester to support GC&SU’s new mission. The additional funds are instrumental in helping the institution achieve its goal of reducing the faculty/student ratio, which last summer aided in the university being invited to join the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
  • In addition, the the Board of Regents will continue with 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 accordance with the policy allowing research universities to request increases in out-of-state tuition rates to the levels of peer or benchmarked institutions, both Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia will see a $500 per semester additional increase in out-of-state tuition rates.

In addition to setting the FY ‘03 tuition rates, the board acted on 55 mandatory student fee requests to adjust athletic, student activity, health services and transportation or parking fees, of which 14 were approved as submitted and 27 at reduced levels. Of the 55, 14 requests were not approved.

The strategy employed in considering this year’s fee requests, according to William R. Bowes, vice chancellor for fiscal affairs, was to “limit increases to critical need, and to limit funding for new programs.” Bowes said high attention also was given to “minimizing the impact on HOPE funding.” Campus committees with a minimum student body makeup of 50 percent review all mandatory student fee increase requests submitted to the Board.

The Board of Regents’ Finance and Business Operations Committee also took action on the allocation of the System’s $1.47 billion FY 2003 state appropriation to the System’s 34 institutions.

Both the System’s FY ‘02 Amended and the FY 2003 budgets took significant hits as a result of the state’s budget cutbacks, resulting in major losses of operational and capital maintenance funds. The FY ‘02 Amended budget experienced an overall 2.5 percent budget cut, along with a $12.18 million loss of Major Repair and Rehabilitation funds. Lottery funds and support for technology also were significantly reduced. The FY ‘03 operating budgets for the USG’s campuses also were forced to cope with an even larger overall reduction of 5.6 percent, which totals $78 million. Adding to that, were further cuts in MR&R funding, totaling $37 million over two budget cycles.

“These back-to-back major losses of operational funds and of monies needed to maintain quality facilities have been a ‘double whammy’ for the University System,” said Chancellor Thomas Meredith. “While we are appreciative of all the Governor and Legislature have done to support our needs, the bottom line is that we are short. Losing such large amounts of funding - especially in these critical areas – has had an extensive impact on our ability to run our universities well on a daily basis.”

According to a report released in January by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges chronicling tuition and fees nationally for public four-year institutions, “Unfortunately, the return to tight budgets and tuition hikes will collide with steady and significant enrollment increases over the next decade. This will severely test state and federal commitments to higher education opportunity for the next several years.” The University System of Georgia currently has a record enrollment of nearly 218,000 students.

The budget presentation was delivered by Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs Daniel S. Papp and Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs William R. Bowes.

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