Georgia gets the dubious distinction of coming in second place…second place in the country for net tuition and fee increases in the 5 year period from 2008-2013. Although many city, county, and state government spending held to near flat in the same period, Georgia’s net tuition revenue per student nearly doubled with an increase of 93 percent. So what state achieved the first place distinction in this dubious contest? That goes to New Mexico, where the net tuition and fee increase in the 5 year period almost tripled; it increased by 188 percent.
The data is reported by the “State Higher Education Finance” report which was released by the nonprofit association of higher education chief executive officers.
The calculations are based on “net” tuition which takes into account both the tuition and fees that students pay and also how much state aid adjusts those costs through programs such as Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program. The amounts were adjusted for inflation, with all dollars expressed in constant 2013 values.
However, although Georgia students pay a lot more in tuition than they did five years ago, the average tuition paid by a full-time Georgia student, is just under $1000 less than the national average with Georgia at $4,484 with the U.S. average at $5,445, the report notes.
During this time period of increased tuition and fees, Georgia was also reducing the award amounts funded through the Hope Scholarship Program. Based on GSFC (Georgia Student Finance Commission) numbers, the HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant declined from a peak of $748 million in the 2010-11 school year to about $526 million for the current year.
With new rigor requirements, GPA levels (Zell Miller Scholarship), and other changes, Georgia State lawmakers also cut the number of students getting the awards as well as the value of the scholarships. For example, approximately 256,000 students received HOPE aid in 2010-11, but only approximately 198,000 received it this year.
There is some speculation that the HOPE Scholarship may have actually helped catalyze the steep rise in tuition costs, said state Rep. Spencer Frye.
Initially, HOPE covered the full costs of tuition and fees, so when the state Board of Regents hiked tuition, the dollar amount of HOPE scholarships increased in consort to compensate. With the cost reductions in the Hope program, that is no longer the case.
Looking more closely at Georgia’s state research universities, the increase is more dramatic: in 2002-2003, University of Georgia undergrad tuition and fees were $3,616 per year. This year, it was $10,262 — not adjusted for inflation — according to state Board of Regents statistics; next year the tuition rate increases $560.
The State Board of Regents approved a 7 percent tuition increase for UGA. Georgia Tech students will see an increase of 9 percent more next year, but at most state schools the increase is a more modest 2.5 percent.
Now that the Hope Scholarship has gone through the cost reduction process, perhaps Georgia’s state universities should as well. Perhaps, in the next five years, Georgia can come strive for best in class for lowest tuition and fees increases.