Many parents worry about how they’re going to pay for their children’s education even when their kids plan to attend public colleges.
It doesn’t look like the struggle is going to get any easier. Reporting from today’s Georgia Board of Regents meeting, the AJC says Georgia college students would pay between $31 and $218 more per semester in tuition next fall under a proposal just approved. In addition, special fees that were due to sunset will continue.
The Regents issued a preemptive press release already today that the tuition hike represents “the smallest tuition increase in a decade – 2.5 percent.”
According to the statement from the Regents:
The action taken by the Board of Regents on tuition today 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 today 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.
Discussion on the blog on rising college costs always sparks comments along the lines of, “I worked my way through college. So can these kids.” Those comments disregard the incredible surge in higher education costs.
For example, I paid most of my tab to attend an Ivy League graduate school by taking off a year and working two jobs. Today, I went to the Columbia University web site today to see the current cost of my program: $55,546 for tuition and fees. Add in rent, utilities and personal expenses, and the web site estimates the total cost at $81, 422.
Unless my jobs were selling kidneys and trafficking in drugs, there is no way at age 22 that I could have earned that much money in a year working two jobs — even living in a box and dining on Saltines and tap water.
For most students — those attending 32 of the 35 colleges in the University System of Georgia — tuition would increase by 2.5 percent. That’s the smallest increase in nearly a decade. But Georgia Tech, University of Georgia and Georgia State University students would face heftier increases.
Georgia Tech would see the largest increase at 6 percent. Students would pay $3,859 per semester, a $218 jump. At UGA, a 5 percent increase would await students, hiking their tuition by $182 to $3,823 per semester. Georgia State students would pay 3.5 percent more, with semester charges growing by $127 to $3,768.
In addition to paying tuition, students pay hundreds each semester in mandatory fees. Students were supposed to get some relief because a “special institutional fee” that ranges from $160 to $544 per semester, depending on the college, was set to expire at the end of June.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog