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Students bracing for tuition hikes

Photo by Production WBKO

Photo by Production WBKO

Heightened tuition hikes attention from students, parents and lawmakers can be traced to the recent overhaul of the HOPE scholarship. For 18 years, the award covered all tuition for students with 3.0 GPAs, but the scholarships for fall will be reduced for all but the very brightest.

That's left some students and parents, who will be paying the difference, more worried than usual about tuition hikes.

For 18 years, the award covered all tuition for students with 3.0 GPAs, but the scholarships for fall will be reduced for all but the very brightest.

That's left some students and parents, who will be paying the difference, more worried than usual about tuition hikes.

For their part, lawmakers are bristling over their lack of control over tuition. They will conduct hearings this year on a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the Board of Regents' power to set tuition.

Tuition, they say, should increase little or none this fall, when HOPE will cover 90 percent of tuition for about 90 percent of qualifying students.

But that's unlikely. The chancellor and the regents, who are scheduled to vote on fall tuition later this month, have warned of possible double-digit increases at some campuses. That won't happen until the Legislature approves the university system's 2012 allocation, which is forecast to drop from about $1.95 billion to $1.74 billion.

For their part, lawmakers are bristling over their lack of control over tuition. They will conduct hearings this year on a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the Board of Regents' power to set tuition.

State budget cuts will have a greater effect on tuition than changes to HOPE, Regents Chairman Willis Potts said. Less than a third of the system's nearly 311,000 students get HOPE scholarships, but the system lost about $1 billion in state funding in the last decade.

A student who goes to UGA in the fall with a HOPE scholarship will pay at least $707 -- 10 percent of current tuition -- plus $870 in fees, for two semesters. That's with no tuition increase.

Critics say the regents have not done the belt-tightening other state agencies have to keep tuition affordable.