June 6, 2023

ATLANTA (AP) — The cost of attending Georgia’s public universities and colleges will remain broadly flat through the 2023-2024 academic year, despite concerns that declining enrollment and a cut in state funding will put pressure on school budgets.

Regents voted Tuesday to raise tuition or fees at just four of the system’s 26 schools: Middle Georgia State University, Georgia College and State University, the University of West Georgia and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Regent Neal Pruitt Jr. of Atlanta said the system is “trying to strike a balance between affordability and quality of instruction” and is relying on lawmakers to recover $66 million cut from the education budget as part of a hospital licensing dispute.

The average Georgia school is charging in-state students $6,266 in tuition and required fees this year, which will increase to $6,290 next year. Costs range from $3,306 at Swainsboro-based East Georgia State College to $11,764 at Georgia Tech.

Regents also made changes to how they distribute $3.2 billion in state funds to the schools, but those changes were not immediately apparent. Officials do not immediately provide a copy of the breakdown of funding that regents voted on.

The University System of Georgia has a total annual budget of $9 billion, which includes state money, tuition and fees, and other income.

Pruitt called the total tuition and budget package a “temporary fix for the year,” and said schools should have the flexibility to work with the systems office to make the numbers work.

Last year, student costs fell system-wide by 7.6%, because regents abolished a reimbursement on top of tuition fees.

Regents have generally held tuition fees for four consecutive years, six of them in the past eight years. Georgia’s typical tuition and fees are lower than all but three states in the 16-state region governed by the Southern Regional Education Board.

Macon-based Middle Georgia State University is increasing tuition and fees from $4,762 next year to $5,332 this year as part of a three-year plan by the school to increase tuition. Georgia College and State University, the University of West Georgia and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College are increasing mandatory fees by small amounts.

The cost of renting dorms or buying meal plans will increase by an average of 4% system-wide.

While many students in Georgia receive other types of financial aid, more than 40% now borrow to pay for college, with some students borrowing more than $6,000 on average.

Students receiving Georgia lottery-funded HOPE scholarships will get a boost next fall after lawmakers direct the Georgia Student Finance Commission to pay full tuition for recipients who graduate high school with a B average and that average in college retain. That was the original goal of the program, but the state has only paid 100% for Zell Miller Scholars who get higher grades and a minimum standardized test score. Others got 90% this year.

HOPE scholarships do not cover any fees.

Regents had postponed tuition fees in April, saying they needed more time to assess cuts.

State senators, pushing for the $66 million cut, said universities would have to cover the shortfall with some of their roughly $500 million in cash.

University System Chancellor Sonny Perdue said 82% of the available money is held at just six institutions and much has already been earmarked.

The cut was related to an effort by Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones to allow the construction of hospitals in rural counties, including his home in Butts County, without state permits. That push was countered by the Marietta-based Wellstar Health System, which owns a hospital in Butts County that would face competition.

Wellstar is also taking over Augusta University hospitals, and Jones attacked that deal and the university system in an attempt to pressure Wellstar.


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