Regents vote not to raise tuition, fees for most Georgia universities

ALBANY — The Georgia Board of Regents voted Tuesday not to raise tuition and fees for students next school year for almost all of the 26 colleges and universities in the public University System of Georgia.

State lawmakers increased funding to the system by nearly 27%, to about $3.1 billion, in the fiscal year budget they passed last week. System officials and regents members called it the best budget they’ve seen in years.

“We are grateful to Governor Kemp and the General Assembly for passing a state budget this year that provides record support for public higher education and USG institutions statewide,” University System Chancellor Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

It is the fourth time in the last five years the board hasn’t raised tuition and fees for most students. The regents held the line on tuition and fees the last two years primarily due to the ongoing economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students and families.

“It’s a big deal for our students,” Regent Neil Pruitt said during the meeting.

Credit: Eric Stirgus

Credit: Eric Stirgus

Middle Georgia State University is the lone system school that will see a tuition increase. Its tuition will increase by $17 per credit for in-state students and $64 per credit hour for out-of-state students. The increase is the first in a three-year plan to bring undergraduate tuition into alignment with other universities in the same academic sector, officials said.

Research has shown more young people have chosen to enter the workforce to help support their families instead of enrolling in college. The University System’s enrollment declined slightly last fall, with much of the drop at its smaller schools.

Tuition and fees weren’t expected to rise, particularly since this is an election year.

The percentage of the system’s budget from the state was cut significantly after the Great Recession more than a decade ago from about 67% to roughly 50%. In 2009, the regents adopted a special institutional fee to help pay for various expenses. Georgia lawmakers added about $230 million to the system’s budget to end the fee.

Tracey Cook, the system’s executive vice chancellor for strategy and fiscal affairs, said she received several emails from students eager for the fee to go away.

“This is a huge win for students,” Cook said during her budget presentation.

More University System students are having trouble paying for school. Roughly 45% of their students take out loans to help pay for college. At Albany State University, where Tuesday’s meeting was held, about 85% of its students take out federal loans, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

Several Albany State students were hopeful tuition will not increase, saying some classmates are still struggling financially.

Credit: Eric Stirgus

Credit: Eric Stirgus

“Some families can’t afford it,” sophomore Devin Wilson, 22, said having lunch in the student center.

Her friend, Jayla Usher, 19, also a sophomore, said she’s taking out two loans to help pay for tuition.

“Tuition is already high enough,” Usher said.

Credit: Eric Stirgus

Credit: Eric Stirgus

Accounting major Joshua Mapson, 22, from Fulton County, said he believes not raising tuition will encourage more students to enroll in college.

“If it doesn’t go up, more people would come to college,” Mapson said. “It would be more affordable.”

Tuition changes

Here are actions the Georgia Board of Regents has taken on tuition for recent fall semesters:

2018-2019: No change

2019-20: 2.5% increase

2020-21: No change

2021-22: No change

2022-23: No change

Source: University System of Georgia