Regents approve 3 percent tuition increase
The Board of Regents approved Tuesday an across-the-board tuition increase of 3 percent, well below what had been predicted and the 35 percent increase that would have been needed to completely make up for budget shortfalls to the Georgia State University System.
As a continuing tool to help preserve academic quality and access, the board also voted to increase a special institutional fee that was implemented two years ago.
Tuition will not increase for the approximately 45,000 students who are still on the board’s discontinued Guaranteed Tuition Plan; however, these students will pay the special institutional fee.
“The state, the University System, students and parents all continue to see very tight budgets and our tuition proposal reflects these realities,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. “We wanted a balanced strategy that meets the academic needs of our students while maintaining access and affordability.”
“As we have over the last three years, the system will offset the gap between revenues and expenditures with additional and pervasive cost-cutting measures at all institutions,” Davis said.
The 3 percent tuition increase means that for the four research universities (Georgia Health Sciences University, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia), undergraduate tuition this fall will be $3,641 per semester, an increase of $106 from fall 2010.
A number of USG institutions have specialized missions and tuition rates. At Columbus State University, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, North Georgia College & State University, Valdosta State University and the University of West Georgia, students will pay $2,367 per semester, an increase of $69. Tuition will be $2,564 this fall at Southern Polytechnic State University, an increase of $75, and at Georgia College & State University $3,236, a $94 increase.
Undergraduate tuition at all other state universities will increase by $64 to $2,201 per semester. This includes Albany State University, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Augusta State University, Clayton State University, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Southwestern State University and Savannah State University.
Undergraduate tuition at the state colleges will increase $41, to $1,388 per semester, including Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), the College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State College, Gainesville State College, Gordon College, Macon State College and Middle Georgia College. Tuition at Georgia Gwinnett College will be $1,648 per semester this fall, a $48 increase.
Tuition at the two-year colleges will be $1,235, a $36 increase from fall 2009. This includes Atlanta Metropolitan College, Bainbridge College, Darton College, East Georgia College, Georgia Highlands College, Georgia Perimeter College, South Georgia College and Waycross College.
The special institutional fee will increase from $200 to $450 per semester at Georgia State, Georgia Health Sciences University and UGA. The previously approved $200 special institutional fee at Georgia Tech will increase to $550 per semester.
At the other four-year institutions, the special institutional fee will increase from $150 to $250 per semester, and at the two-year institutions, from $100 to $200 per semester. The exceptions are Georgia Gwinnett and Coastal Georgia, where the special institutional fee will increase to $250 per semester.
The combined tuition and special institutional fee actions result in a weighted average increase of 9 percent for all University System students.
“The Board of Regents continues to be very concerned about affordability and access,” said Usha Ramachandran, the System’s chief financial officer, who made the budget and tuition recommendations to the Board.
Ramachandran said that three main factors drove the formulation of the tuition strategy approved by the regents. First was to maintain affordability and accessibility by keeping the overall increase in tuition and the special institutional fee to a single digit percentage, she said.
“Second, we also wanted to maintain the HOPE Scholarship payment for FY12 tuition as close to 90 percent of the FY11 tuition rate as possible,” Ramachandran said. Legislative changes this year to the popular merit scholarship program reduced the reimbursement rate for most students from 100 to 90 percent of current tuition rates. The board actions today on tuition will set HOPE reimbursement in FY12 at 87.4 percent of the new tuition rates.
“Our third priority is to maintain academic excellence at our 35 degree-granting institutions,” Ramachandran said. She noted that this is where the special institutional fee helps, as funds are used directly by institutions to support the cost of instruction—primarily by ensuring institutions have the needed faculty and student support services to meet the needs of a projected 320,000 students this coming fall.
The tuition and fees decisions reached during Tuesday’s regents’ meeting were just one part of board actions on the University System’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget. FY12 state appropriations to the University System are $1.74 billion, a reduction of $208 million, or 10.7 percent from FY11 appropriations.
In addition, institutions for the first time will not see state funding for enrollment growth as $177 million in FY12 was not part of the final budget package. The absence of funds for enrollment growth, plus the institutional share of $146 million of the System’s reductions, and the elimination of $23 million in federal stimulus funding means the 35 colleges and universities have a $346 million shortfall in FY12.
The General Assembly also approved a capital budget for the USG that totals $180.9 million. This includes $45 million in Major Repair and Renovation (MRR) bond funds, and $8.65 million for projects related to the Agricultural Experiment Station, the Cooperative Extension Service, the 4H Rock Eagle complex and the Georgia Public Libraries.