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Georgia Board of Regents hikes tuition 2.5 percent at most state schools

It marks the third straight year the board has increased tuition by 2.5 percent at most Georgia universities and colleges

Despite statewide tuition increases of 2.5 percent for the the 2014-15 academic year, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby said Tuesday that “tuition and fees in the University System continue to be an excellent value for students,” adding system officials are “both mindful and sensitive to ensuring broad access to college.” (File Photo)

Despite statewide tuition increases of 2.5 percent for the the 2014-15 academic year, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby said Tuesday that “tuition and fees in the University System continue to be an excellent value for students,” adding system officials are “both mindful and sensitive to ensuring broad access to college.” (File Photo)

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University System of Georgia Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs John Brown said the FY 2015 budget approved Tuesday by the Board of Regents was the first since FY 2008 that did not have to account for a reduction in state funding, which is set to come in at just under $1.94 billion. (Special photo)

ATLANTA — The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has raised tuition by 2.5 percent at the majority of the state’s public colleges and universities for the 2014-15 academic year. It’s the third year in a row that tuition has been raised by that percentage.

“Tuition and fees in the University System continue to be an excellent value for students, but we are both mindful and sensitive to ensuring broad access to college,” Chancellor Hank Huckaby said. He noted that among the 16 states of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Georgia ranks 10th among four-year and seventh among two-year institutions for tuition and fees.

In Albany, Darton State College will see a per semester increase from $1,298 to $1,330 for in-state students in FY 2015, while out-of state per semester tuition will increase from $4,911 to $5,034. In-state per credit hour tuition will increase to $88.67 from $86.54, and out-of state will rise from $327.40 to $335.60 per credit hour.

Albany State University will see a per semester increase from $2,312 to $2, 370 for in-state students, while out-of state per semester tuition will increase from $8,413 to $8,623. In-state per credit hour tuition will increase to $158 from $154.14, and out-of state will rise from $560.87 to $574.87 per hour.

FY 2015 semester rates for other nearby colleges and universities are Valdosta State University, $2,549, up from $2,487; Georgia Southwestern State University, $2,370, up from $2,312; Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, $1,495, up from $1,459, and Bainbridge State College, $1,330, up from $1,298.

In addition to approving the 2.5 percent tuition increase at 27 of its institutions, the Board of Regents approved targeted increases at the System’s four research universities. The Georgia Institute of Technology’s tuition will increase 9 percent, the University of Georgia’s tuition will rise 7 percent and tuition at Georgia Regents University and Georgia State University will increase 4 percent each.

USG Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs John Brown, who presented the tuition plan to the regents, said the new tuition rates maintain the needed balance of state funding covering 50 percent of the cost of instruction and tuition the remaining 50 percent.

“Our differential tuition strategy gives us the flexibility to set tuition at rates that ensure our institutions can fulfill their instructional mission but also address the affordability concerns of students and parents, particularly at our access institutions,” Brown said.

The higher rates at the four research universities, Brown said, are market driven and based on comparative tuition data for peer institutions.

For example, for the fall 2013 semester, Georgia Tech received 17,669 applications for approximately 2,700 freshman slots and UGA had 20,647 applications for approximately 5,200 freshmen admissions.

Yet of Georgia Tech’s 13 peer institutions, the Institute charged the fourth-lowest tuition, while of UGA’s 12 peer institutions, the university was slightly below the average.

Higher tuition at the research universities – which have greater operating costs overall – help support the retention of nationally recognized faculty, keep classes small and maintain quality programming, University System officials say.

Georgia is one of three states with two or more institutions ranked among the top 20 national public colleges and universities in the 2013 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings. Georgia Tech ranks No. 7 on the list, and the University of Georgia comes in No. 20.

In addition to setting tuition rates, the regents, meeting on the campus of the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, approved student fees and an FY 2015 operating budget.

Eighteen member institutions submitted to the regents 42 mandatory student fee requests for approval. The board approved 30. Those fee requests must be recommended at the institution by a group that includes students, and are reviewed at the System level. Only fee requests that demonstrate a clear business need are recommended for board approval, Brown said.

The regents’ approved an FY 2015 spending plan that includes just under $1.94 billion in state appropriations, a net increase in state funding of $56 million, or 2.97 percent after formula increases.

“This is the first year since 2008 our budget has not included a reduction,” said Brown.