ATLANTA, GA (USG) - The 2014-15 academic year will mark the third year in row tuition to attend the majority of the University System of Georgia’s colleges and universities will rise just 2.5 percent.
“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,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. He noted that among the 16 states of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Georgia ranks tenth among four-year and seventh among two-year institutions for tuition and fees.
In addition to approving the 2.5 percent tuition increase at 27 institutions, the Board of Regents approved targeted increases at the System’s four research universities. Georgia Institute of Technology’s tuition will increase 9 percent, the University of Georgia’s tuition will rise 7 percent and tuition at both Georgia Regents University (GRU) and Georgia State University will increase 4 percent.
USG Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs John Brown, who presented the tuition plan to the Board, 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.
As a result of this support by both the state and students, Georgia is one of only 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 college rankings. Georgia Tech is ranked No. 7 on the list and the University of Georgia at 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 a Fiscal Year 2015 operating budget that reflects the regents’ commitment to both access and academic quality.
Eighteen USG institutions submitted to the regents 42 mandatory student fee requests for approval. The Board approved 30 of these. Such fee requests must first be recommended at the institution from a group that includes students and are reviewed at the System level. Only those fee requests that demonstrate a clear business need are recommended for Board approval, Brown said.
The regents also approved a USG FY15 budget totaling 1.939 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.
Along with covering increases in health insurance and benefit costs, new state dollars will be targeted in three areas: medical education, a one percent merit salary increases for faculty and staff (the first since 2009) and an initiative to help with college affordability by lowering the cost of textbooks.
An ongoing effort to increase the number of medical doctors trained and potentially working in Georgia received an additional $2 million in state funding. The dollars will go toward a program to increase the number of residency slots in Georgia hospitals, with the goal of providing 400 residency slots by 2021.
The cost of textbooks will be the focus of the System’s “Affordable Learning Georgia” program, which will use $2.5 million in new state funding to the USG’s GALILEO program to develop and launch a series of open source, high-quality, free electronic textbooks for core courses taught in the System.
A pilot effort at UGA in biology resulted in a free, open source textbook that eliminated the need for students to purchase a traditional, printed $100 textbook.
The USG’s FY15 budget also includes construction projects funded by the state. The $223.9 million capital budget provides funding for equipment for new buildings, new construction, and maintenance, repair and renovation (MRR) for existing buildings.
Three new facilities will receive $14.9 million for equipment; two major construction projects total $54.2 million; four planning and design projects received $6.6 million, 13 other projects will be built for $44.9 million; other projects and MRR will receive $96.5 million and the Georgia Public Libraries will receive $6.8 million for construction.
Fiscal Year 2015 Tuition and Fee Rates