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April 2012 Issue

Featured - Georgia Public College Tuition Increase the Lowest in a Decade

Georgia Public College Tuition Increase the Lowest in a Decade

This fall, most students at Georgia’s 35 public colleges and universities will see the smallest tuition increase in a decade – 2.5 percent.

The action taken on April 17 by the Board of Regents on tuition is possible in part due to Gov. Nathan Deal recommending and the General Assembly agreeing to full funding of the formula for the University System of Georgia. By doing so, the regents were provided with a strong financial base upon which to set current tuition policy in fiscal year 2013.

Another key contributor to the current decision is the goal of the board to maintain affordability. “The board and I are very sensitive to the present economic realities facing our students and parents,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “We are thankful for the actions of the Governor and the General Assembly of fully funding the formula; it allows us to take a very conservative approach to current tuition. It also helps us maintain accessibility and affordability as we pursue increasing college completion rates across the state.”

The action by the regents on tuition was part of a larger package of decisions on the fiscal year 2013 budget and funding to the 35 colleges and universities as well as student fees and the future of the special institutional fee. The action by the board not only address affordability, but support the goals of ensuring high academic quality and promoting the Complete College Georgia completion plan.

At 2.5 percent, this is the lowest percentage increase since fiscal year 2003 for the majority of in-state undergraduate students. Depending upon the college or university in which a student is enrolled, this is an increase at 32 USG institutions from $31 to $91 per semester.

At the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia and Georgia State University, the board is adopting a new approach to bring the per-student funding closer to that of the national peers for each university. The tuition increase at Georgia Tech will be 6 percent; at UGA students will experience a 5 percent increase and the increase at Georgia State will be 3.5 percent.

“Differentiating tuition among the four research institutions is a new approach,” said USG Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs John Brown. “This approach ensures each of the research institutions can fulfill their respective academic missions while being competitively priced with their peer institutions.”

Another key action taken relates to the special institutional fee, which was first enacted in 2009 by the regents to help offset lower state support due to the economic recession. The fee is due to sunset on June 30, 2012. Today the board adopted a resolution that continues the fee at its current levels with some exceptions. The board will continue to review and evaluate the fee annually as part of the tuition and budget process, said Brown.

“Given the special institutional fee generates $210 million annually to support the USG’s core instructional mission, it would be difficult for the institutions to sustain their academic missions and quality of instruction if the fee was eliminated,” said Brown.

A total exemption from the special institutional fee was approved for active military personnel, joint enrolled students, and for exempt students who typically do not pay fees, such as senior citizens. Students who are cross-registered at multiple institutions will pay the fee only at the home institution to which they are enrolled. The final exemption approved is a 50 percent reduction in the fee for all students taking from one to four credit hours.

Other specific student fees that originate at the institutions received closer scrutiny this year, Brown said. Of the total 254 student fees in place in the System, only 18 were recommended and approved for increases. “We carefully reviewed fee increase requests and limited increases to those absolutely necessary,” said Brown.

Other regents’ actions related to board approval of the System’s budget and state appropriations for FY13 of $1.8 billion, which represents an increase of $89.6 million, or 5.16 percent from the current year.

The General Assembly funded $72.5 million for enrollment growth and increases in costs to current employee and retiree health benefit programs. The strong support of the Governor and General Assembly in funding the University System provided the foundation to minimize tuition increases, said Brown.

The General Assembly also approved funds to support the System’s efforts in meeting some key state needs, including:
• $5 million to support Georgia Health Sciences University’s efforts to boost cancer research;
• $1.2 million to expand residency slots statewide for physician training; and
• $3 million to increase the number of nursing faculty needed to meet the state’s demand for more practicing nurses.

In determining how to allocate funds to the 35 institutions, particularly the $70 million in new funds for enrollment, Brown said the budget adopted by the board considered both reductions in funding in recent years, as well as increases in enrollment over the past two years.

“Further, and of greater importance, the chancellor met with presidents of all 35 institutions to better understand student needs and priorities,” said Brown.

“Ultimately, funding was allocated in an effort to address priorities including college completion, reducing teacher-student ratios, and enhancing direct student services.”

“Everything Chancellor Huckaby has implemented – looking at our academic programs, how we use our facilities, and consolidation – must work together to help us meet our goals in the Complete College Georgia plan,” he said. “Likewise, our FY13 budget and allocations, along with our tuition and fee strategy, support our efforts to increase college completion.”

The regents also approved construction projects funded by the state for FY13. The $315.8 million capital budget provides funding for equipment for new buildings, construction and maintenance, repair and renovation (MRR) of existing buildings.

Six new facilities will receive $11.1 million for equipment; seven major construction projects total $221.1 million in funding; five smaller projects will be built for $17 million; other projects and MRR will receive $62.2 million and the Georgia Public Libraries will receive $4.4 million for construction.

For a complete list of the FY13 tuition rates and fees, visit: http://www.usg.edu/fiscal_affairs/tuition_and_fees/.

For a complete list of the FY13 capital projects, visit: http://www.usg.edu/ref/capital/capital_projects.phtml.

Posted by Sonja Roberts on April 30, 2012
Published in: Board of Regents

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