As Regents raise tuition, policymakers discuss whether college costs are too high

The goal of all Georgia public colleges, even Tech, should not be to weed out the weak, but make all students stronger, said a panel today. (AJC file)

The goal of all Georgia public colleges, even Tech, should not be to weed out the weak, but help all students graduate, said a panel today. (AJC file)

As expected, the Regents increased tuition today at Georgia’s public colleges and universities. At the same time that the Regents were voting, I was across downtown at a panel on college completion where affordability was cited as an impediment to students completing their degrees. There were 150 people in the audience, including business leaders, state school chief John Barge and Erin Hames, from the governor’s office.

“We are reaching limits in our states to keep education affordable,” said David Spence, president of the Southern Regional Education Board and panel moderator.

(One of the panelists was Rockdale Superintendent Samuel T. King, who told me afterward that he was not at liberty to confirm that he was a candidate for the Cobb school chief job. I take that as a “yes.” If he was not a candidate, King would have been free to say, “I am not a candidate.”)

Sponsored by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, the panel opened with Will Pinkston, a consultant and former senior advisor to the governor of Tennessee during that state’s successful bid for a Race to the Top grant.

Pinkston talked about the need to link college funding to outcomes of students rather than to enrollments. He and other speakers urged greater efficiency in higher education, which has not historically worried about whether students graduate.

In fact, panelist C. Dean Alford, a former state school board member and chairman of the Technical College System of Georgia’s board of directors, talked about dealing with that issue at his own alma mater, Georgia Tech. He said Tech is trying to develop an attitude among its faculty that the goal is not to weed out students but to help all students stay at Tech and graduate.

The state pays a high price when students in state institutions do not complete college, said Alford. In 2009, he said Georgia spent $254 million on students who did not return to college after their first year.

While the amounts of these tuition increases are small, panelist Lynne Weisenbach, a vice chancellor with the Board of Regents, told the  audience that only 25 percent of public college students fall into the traditional mold of fresh-faced 18-year-olds attending college right out of high school. The other 75 percent are juggling jobs and families, not living in dorms, going to football games or pledging fraternities and sororities.

I think it is these nontraditional students who will be most affected by these increases.

According to the AJC:

Starting in the fall the financially troubled HOPE scholarship will cover all tuition for only the most accomplished students, about 10 percent of recipients. For the rest the award will equal 90 percent of current rates and will not cover tuition increases.

The 3 percent tuition increase means HOPE will cover 87.4 percent of that cost, Ramachandran said. About 30 percent of the 311,000 students in the University System of Georgia receive the scholarship.

The increase ranges from $36 a semester at two-year colleges to $106 a semester at research institutions, such as University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia State University.

The increase would be one of the smallest for the system. Tuition rose by as much as 16 percent at some colleges this year and jumped by 25 percent during the 2009-10 academic year.

But students will still have a large out-of-pocket expense because of an increase in a special fee created two years ago in response to state budget cuts.

Students attending 29 of the 35 University System colleges will pay an extra $100 a semester. Those attending Georgia Gwinnett College and the College of Coastal Georgia will pay $150 more a semester.

Students at UGA, Georgia State and Georgia Health Sciences University will pay an additional $250 a semester, while those enrolled at Tech will pay an extra $350 a semester. Tech’s increase is more because it enrolls fewer students than the other research institutions, Ramachandran said.

The regents created the special fee in January 2009, charging $50 to $100 a semester, depending on the campus. The fee doubled the following year.

Ramachandran said the fee increase kept the raise in tuition low. Without it, tuition would jump by about 12 percent, she said.

She said all students will pay the fee, but not everyone will pay higher tuition. About 45,000 students are exempt from tuition increases because they were grandfathered into a program that guaranteed the same rates for four years.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

93 comments Add your comment

catlady

April 19th, 2011
2:10 pm

Part of the problem with non-completers is they should have more carefully considered their options before enrolling. Maybe they are “college material” but should have started at a more supportive 2 year college, yet HOPE encouraged them to aim too high–to a university with the “cattle call” classes. Some of them should never have enrolled–their credentials were too sketchy. Some have suffered more than others in the economic downturn, and some have suffered due to their entitlement (I showed up; I deserve an A) mentality.

On affordability, Georgia is still no where near a high tuition state. It also is not generous in its need-based aid (discounting the federally mandated/paid aid),

David Sims

April 19th, 2011
2:15 pm

My college tuition only cost me four years in the Air Force that I probably would have been better off not having to serve. There’s a sarcastic song that AF lieutenants sing whenever they don’t think anyone is listening: “You’re in the Air Force now. You’re in the Air Force now. You’ll never be rich, you son of a —–. You’re in the Air Force now.” But at least that AFROTC scholarship did get me through college when my family otherwise might not have been able to afford to pay for my education. Of course, to get one of those you must be smart enough to pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT).

GT Student

April 19th, 2011
2:15 pm

2010-2011 – $1646 per year in fees. $7070 per year in tuition. $434 HOPE fee stipend. $7070 per year in HOPE Scholarship. TOTAL COST: $1212

2011-2012 – $2346 per year in fees. $7282 per year in tuition. $0 HOPE fee stipend. $6363 HOPE Scholarship. TOTAL COST: $3265…. 270% increase…

GT Student

April 19th, 2011
2:16 pm

oops type-o 170% increase

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
2:20 pm

LOL…Maureen put the KyBosh on us…LOL!

John

April 19th, 2011
2:25 pm

The blame for increased tuition and fees at colleges and universities lies solely in the hands of your state legislature. They could have required the Lottery Commission to give 35 percent of lottery revenues to HOPE and discontinue the bonuses the Lottery Commission employees pay to themselves but it didn’t do so. They could have raised the necessary taxes to fund state government, including colleges and universities, but it didn’t do so. We need to elect legislators who will govern responsibly as statesmen instead of as politicians.

Andrew

April 19th, 2011
2:26 pm

They SPENT $12,000,000 on Stegman last year! Just remember that when they say there’s not enough money.

Madatfulton

April 19th, 2011
2:38 pm

The costs are too high. If they can pay Snookie 10’s of thousands of dollars to speak, then student activity fees are too high.

God Bless the Teacher!

April 19th, 2011
2:39 pm

Too much money goes to college athletics. As a graduate student who is employed full-time, has health care coverage through my job, access to technology at work and home, and commutes too far one way, why should I have to pay all of the required fees colleges throw at students. I don’t go to the athletic events (my choice, I know) and why would I drive to the college to get medicine from the infirmary? It’s ridiculous how colleges are contributing to the widening gap between the haves and have nots in society.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
2:49 pm

Agreed…Snookie and that other lady have not much at all worth hearing. Although Snookie does have a nice beer belly.

rick

April 19th, 2011
2:50 pm

I don’t want to hear about how expensive college is at all. For one thing, it is worth it. When it gets to the point when it is not worth it, young people will stop going, and colleges will have to reduce costs. We have a HOPE Scholarship. It is not difficult to get good grades in college. A 3.3. gpa merits 90% of much of the cost of college. Sorry, if you higher education is not fully funded, sorry that you may have to pay for your own education. Second, there are also many other scholarships.

I also don’t want to hear about how students may have to get jobs. I worked full-time while I was in college. I earned a graduate degree from a major state university and graduated with a 3.9 gpa. I don’t remember anyone paying for my education. Between scholarships and working, there are plenty of ways for students to get by. Also, if you can’t afford to go to a four-year school for four years, start at a two-year school. Way too many young people over pay for college by starting at a four-year school. FASFA will just about pay 100% of two-year college if your family is poor.

To GT student, I feel so sorry that you have to pay 3k per year to get one of the most valuable degrees in the world. You may end up owing 12k, or less, by the time you graduate. How will you ever be able to pay it? I guess you may have to wait an extra year to buy the big home and become upper-middle class. I’ll tell you what, if a Tech degree is not wort 3k a year to you, drop out. There are many people who losing their houses and jobs. There are children going hungry. Do you know how you come across that you would complain about having to pay so little for a Tech degree? You are still getting one of the best deals in the history of the world.

rick

April 19th, 2011
2:54 pm

In regards to Stegman, stop going to the games. It is insane that so many people at UGA take football so seriously. They university spent millions of the football program because the students and graduates love the team so much. If you have a problem with it, swear off UGA football. Otherwise, you are a joke.

Self_Made

April 19th, 2011
3:02 pm

rick is harsh and sarcastic, and while I may not completely agree with him, I understand his point. I don’t like higher tuition (especially since I’m paying it x2), and I think we do have some priorities screwed up, which is how we got here. Still, a little struggle never killed anybody and it does teach appreciation. You shouldn’t have to work so hard that you really can’t study or learn effectively or enjoy the experience of college (I worked through school and never got to go to Spring Break or pledge a fraternity…and am not convinced that I’m “better” for it), but there is a life after college, and the degree pays off for most once it’s accomplished.

500 Days of Summer

April 19th, 2011
3:05 pm

Lots of good points here already, especially about the lottery never having paid out the required 35% to HOPE despite giving themselves six figure bonuses. SPARE ME the “private corporation” rhetoric. They are employed by THE STATE OF GEORGIA.

Further, colleges are guilty of gouging rates since HOPE. I think we already know this, and they are continuing to get away with it. I will be spared of the “more kids are attending college these days” rhetoric as well. Admissions criteria HAS toughened over the last 10 years, and admittance rates have declined significantly across the board.

Many of my students are opting to go to 2-year colleges just to save money, which is the smart thing to do in the long run. I wish more students would do it just because; I have a senior with a 3.7 1250 SAT that will be attending Perimeter this fall. She will pay next to nothing with HOPE and low fees.

We can debate about non-completers all day. But as long as one’s circumstance differs from the next it’s moot. Bottom line: THE $$$ IS THERE. Unfortunately, education has not been a priority in this nation since…well ever.

Miss Daisy

April 19th, 2011
3:06 pm

The Board of Regents has no oversite; they can do anything with tuition rates. Our legislature should take control of these guys; the ones that are accountable to the voters. The Board of Regents are an arrogant bunch since they are associated with “education” and accountable to no one. The truth is they are all political appointees.
They could cut costs instead of continually raising tuition. All college programs and departments are bloated and could use some common, business sense applied. There are overpaid college professors that never see the inside of a classroom; but they wrote a book or article and have 15 letters after their name. They are usually pompus and arrogant, and terrible instructors.

GT Student

April 19th, 2011
3:06 pm

@ Rick

I know it is more than worth it. I was just pointing out the actual amount of the increase when they are claiming it is a 3% increase.

I’m just finishing my second year, and I’m $10,000 in debt with student loans already. I’m sure I’ll have no problem paying them off in the future.

500 Days of Summer

April 19th, 2011
3:07 pm

rick says: I don’t want to hear about how expensive college is at all. For one thing, it is worth it. When it gets to the point when it is not worth it, young people will stop going

Oh, you mean like when there are no jobs for college grads to go to after graduation? Yeah, we’re there. And kids are still going to college.

|_ <—have a seat

GT Student

April 19th, 2011
3:08 pm

@rick

Also, my parents DID almost lose their house and my dad has been unemployed for 2 years. FYI.

Dr. John Trotter

April 19th, 2011
3:11 pm

I have been away since this morning, but what happened to the earlier topic about pay for performance, merit pay, etc., and linking this to Cherokee and Clayton? Why was this topic removed?

fromOhiototheATL

April 19th, 2011
3:13 pm

People with a bachelors degree on average earn a million dollars more than a person with just a high school diploma. I think you need to quit whining and thank your lucky stars you can afford to go to college. Bunch of cry babies if you ask me… oohhh i grew up with a silver spoon and now i have to fork out 12k for one of the best degrees in the world!!! Boo freaking hooo, get your priorities straight. I went to college, worked as an intern, paid my way through via the GI bill and FAFSA, and when I graduated? 50k a year to start my first job. A job I never would have gotten without my degree and my O SO EXPENSIVE NOT WORTH IT COLLEGE DEGREE……

500 Days of Summer

April 19th, 2011
3:15 pm

Actually, I take it back, rick.

I worked 3 jobs while completing a full time grad school program, so I see your point, albeit callous.

But what I paid for my grad degree in 2007 is what kids are paying for IN-STATE tuiton right now, and I was an out-of-state student! Highway robbery going on here, but you’re right that college is a privilege, well it used to be. I think entirely too many folks feel entitled to a college education these days.

500 Days of Summer

April 19th, 2011
3:17 pm

GT don’t feel compelled to explain yourself. Circumstances differ. The Board of Regents is committing highway robbery at the expense of students no matter how it is spun.

parent

April 19th, 2011
3:18 pm

@Rick – Just so you know Stegeman is the coliseum not the football stadium.

parent and teacher

April 19th, 2011
3:24 pm

@ Dr. John – I was wondering about that too.

What's best for kids

April 19th, 2011
3:25 pm

Maureen, what happened to the Dekalb, Clayton, Cherokee story?

What's best for kids

April 19th, 2011
3:26 pm

Sorry, Maureen, I just saw that Dr. John posted the same question prior to mine.

chewyandrw

April 19th, 2011
3:27 pm

Look at the states around us. We are still in the bottom half of college costs and there is so much money out there as far as scholarships, grants, etc that no one pays full price. As far as paying too much for out of state fees, why shouldnt you? @500 Days of Summer is correct in that too many students feel entitled to goto school. I see it everyday that students feel that they have to goto college and universities when they should be going to technical colleges, work, or the military. Its just too much.

By the way, Snooki was in NJ not GA so thats a weak argument to make. Also, Stegeman was helped with renovations through the Athletic fund. Come on people.

Sonny

April 19th, 2011
3:29 pm

Before the lottery people went to college and guess what? THEY PAID FOR THE ENTIRE THING!
Quit whining…unless you quit before you graduate any college expense will be more than made up for by your salary over the years.

Mikey D

April 19th, 2011
3:34 pm

Echoing the question about the removed post regarding the situations in Dekalb, Clayton and Cherokee… What happened? I called my wife and told her to look at the article, and she called back and said “What article?” Maureen, did someone at one of those systems’ central offices request that it be removed? Wouldn’t really be surprised…

Yankee Prof

April 19th, 2011
3:34 pm

Miss Daisy, I’d love to hire you to paint my house: should only take you two or three brush strokes. (The point being you’re using a pretty broad brush to describe a complex and wide array of people and situations.)

The fact is that the Regents showed great restraint and respect to their constituents in approving such a small rise in tuition, quite the opposite of what the legislature has shown these past several years. I can tell you the individual institutions wanted more (and were justified in asking due to the severity of the legislature’s budget cuts). As noted, the tuition and fee increases barely cover one-third of the legislature cuts from the university system budget.

John

April 19th, 2011
3:43 pm

I’m fine with the tuition increase, but they keep taking it into a fee – so even someone who is going to school part time for 2-3 classes a semester (6-9 hours) is paying the same in fees as someone going 15 hours. Those fees are now going to be $300/semester. I’d rather see tuition raised 12% personally.

USG drone

April 19th, 2011
4:17 pm

Two points.

First, nontraditional students have been getting burned for years on fees. The University at which I work has mandatory fees that all students have to pay whether they use the affiliated services or not, and most nontraditional students do not use the dining facilities or the recreational facilities, etc., for which they pay (IMO extortionate) fees.

Second, for all of y’all who continue to scream about cutting fat out of the USG, I could not agree more with you. But do you really think the cuts will be to “pompous, arrogant” professors or the multiple layers of administrators that each university has? I can assure you those people are teflon – they’ll not be cut. The cuts will be to Plant Ops folks, admissions counselors, registrar staff, library personnel, computer services, adjunct (read: part-time, “less expensive”) faculty, information databases, student assistants, etc. – things that will look good on paper with regard to the number of cuts made, but which will amount to much, much fewer dollars than *could* be saved if the real fat were to be examined.

The cuts are always – ALWAYS – made in the wrong places or are, at best, made for show.

Sean

April 19th, 2011
4:28 pm

Any increase in the cost of an education is unfortunate, butt speaking from experience… the USG could raise tuition a ton more, and they would still be lower then most states.

Rich

April 19th, 2011
4:39 pm

Tuition and fees may be similar for many undergraduate students, but graduate tuition is usually covered by outside money (i.e., research grants), while fees come out of the already low student paychecks. The Regents don’t seem to make a distinction between graduate and undergraduate education. While an overall revenue increase is definitely needed, this decision to hike fees in order to keep tuition artificially low will probably negatively affect the competitiveness of the state’s research universities in attracting high-caliber research students for years to come.

catlady

April 19th, 2011
4:45 pm

There used to be a thread about the plans of Fulton, Clayton, and Cherokee. Where is it, or have I had a small stroke? Was it too incendiary? That Cherokee would expect people to sign a blank piece of paper? That Fulton already paid folks for work “promised” to be done using stimulus money?

Please let the people know!

Dr. Trotter, what say you? Is MACE all over this like ice cream on a hot day?

Maureen Downey

April 19th, 2011
4:51 pm

@Catlady, Nothing nefarious. I wanted to add an official comment from Cherokee saying that contracts HAVE NOT gone out and that are are no plans now for performance pay — although it is coming — but was at a conference and my power on my laptop went dead.
I was about to repost, but got back to a slew of news that I needed to get up asap.
Maureen

Say What????

April 19th, 2011
5:01 pm

Tech enrolls less students than the other research institutes, so their fees are $100 higher per semester than UGA’s and State’s?

It’s been a while since I got my business degree, but didn’t decreased demand used to correlate to a reduction in price, not an increase? Just saying, don’t give us stupid explanations, just tell us we decided to screw the Tech students and their families ’cause they’ll probably make more in the future anyway.

falcon fan

April 19th, 2011
5:14 pm

Why why do ppl think they should go to college free? I don’t understand….college isn’t free

catlady

April 19th, 2011
5:34 pm

Glad to hear it wasn’t because you were pressured to take it down, due to bad p.r. Because we know that NEVER happens! ; p

catlady

April 19th, 2011
5:38 pm

Say what? It isn’t lack of demand. Tech turns away quite a few potential students. BECAUSE they are more selective, they can demand more. Also, I think they offer some pretty expensive majors. ‘Course, my dad was a Duke major (EE, 1948) so I don’t know much about Tech.

Of course, UGA is trying to catch up, with engineering and medicine being added.

lulu

April 19th, 2011
5:40 pm

Non-traditional students get screwed, completely, but … it is what it is, considering tuition is still pretty low. (I say that as one of those students, who is definitely feeling those increases in fees.)

Cuts could be made in SO many ways that nobody thinks about. For example, do university classrooms need to be below 70 degrees all summer? Probably not, but they are, and it probably costs a fortune. Parking is insanely cheap here compared to any other city – universities (in Atlanta, at least) could easily double their parking fees and still compete with private parking. And so on, and so forth, but for some reason the powers that be seem to think that screwing over either the students or the faculty – or both – are the only options. It definitely feels like the appearance of saving money is much more important than actually saving money.

AngryRedMarsWoman

April 19th, 2011
5:42 pm

“In 2009, he said Georgia spent $254 million on students who did not return to college after their first year.”

Perhaps this is enough evidence to make people take seriously the idea of the first year of Hope being structured as a loan that is repaid if you do not continue? Why pay for people to “try it out”? Why pay for people who decide after the first year that college is too hard? Quit babying them. Make a grown up decision at 18 and either commit to college or don’t. How is that hard? I went to college – two undergrad degrees and a doctorate – and never once did the thought even enter my mind that I could stop once I had started and nobody was paying my way. Four-year college is NOT for everyone, folks, why can’t we accept this? Have the people who know they want to go sign a contract with Hope to finish their education or pay it back like a loan if they don’t (obviously with exceptions for illness, disability, etc). If you cannot make a commitment to finish college then you have no business going…go get a job for a year or two until you are ready to make the commitment.

catlady

April 19th, 2011
6:06 pm

AngryRed: You wouldn’t believe how many cases of “illness or disability” you might see. The appeals would be overwhelming.

As part of my graduate work, I assisted the Associate Dean of Students at a large Southern university. One of my jobs was to schedule the appeals for students who quit in the middle of the term. You would not believe how many “reasons” on which they would base appeals to get their money back!

terry

April 19th, 2011
6:11 pm

I worked my way through college w/o basically zero support from my parents for tuition, room, board, books, food or play money. The govt wasn’t handing out money 25 years ago when you had to be responsible for yourself unlike today.

AngryRedMarsWoman

April 19th, 2011
6:13 pm

@Catlady – I guess I was trying to (a) be nice and (b) anticipate the howls from people who would blog about the “child” who has been diagnosed with something mid-year and thus we cannot possibly hold anyone to a standard because a few might be harmed by it…..you know how that goes, right? Maybe there is no way to win in today’s society – I would say you have to prove an actual long-term “I cannot possibly go on” disability, but since you can now get SSDI for obesity and drug addiction who knows where that will lead. No matter what you do there will be someone crying “no fair” and apparently nowadays we would not want anyone to feel singled out so we either punish all or none. sigh

GTGrad

April 19th, 2011
6:31 pm

“To offer some perspective: over the past four years, Georgia Tech’s state allocation has been reduced by almost $90 million, or approximately 31 percent, and the state contribution now accounts for less than 17 percent of our overall budget. While we have taken steps to mitigate the effect of these reductions, we are not able to absorb these cuts and still preserve the quality of our academic programs, and provide the educational experience consistent with other top-tier public research universities. With pay freezes already in place for three years, cuts to our state appropriation and increased efficiencies already implemented, it is necessary to seek other alternatives, including additional tuition and fees, to offset these reductions in state support for higher education.”
Bud Peterson

Nub

April 19th, 2011
6:40 pm

Would someone please tell me the average salary for a College Professor… Thanks

GTGrad

April 19th, 2011
7:26 pm

@Nub: From Money magazine: Average college professor pay: $81,491

Not So Casual Observer

April 19th, 2011
7:27 pm

The only thing growing faster than tuition rates is the ego of some of the university presidents. President Adams at Georgia adds a medical school and engineering school – for what reason? We already have two of the nation’s finest schools in those specialties.

The same process that has driven health costs higher and higher is at work here. We have removed the consumer from the cost containment process in education just as employer provided health insurance removed the consumer from caring about costs.

The Hope Scholarship, a wonderful program in theory, produced the unintended consequence of giving the Board of Regents and the university and college presidents a “honey pot” from which to steal at every opportunity.

Nub

April 19th, 2011
7:39 pm

Thanks GTGRAD…..