Georgia Lt. Gov. candidate proposes locking in college tuition for incoming freshmen

A Republican candidate for lieutenant governor is proposing a plan to reduce costs for students at Georgia’s colleges and universities that includes locking in tuition for incoming freshmen.

Tuition for incoming freshmen will be locked in as their per-credit cost for four years, said Rick Jeffares, a state senator from Henry County. He’s also proposing reducing costs for online classes and that core curriculum credits can be transferred between Georgia colleges and universities.

Jeffares said in a statement his plan would preserve the HOPE Scholarship for future generations.

“The existence of the HOPE Scholarship should not be an excuse for college tuition and fees to skyrocket year after year,” Jeffares said. “Not every kid gets HOPE and slower growth in costs protects us from HOPE cuts in the future.”

Georgia had a “Fixed for Four” plan that began in 2006 to control tuition costs, Jeffares noted, but it ended in 2009.

The state’s Board of Regents voted in April to raise tuition by 2 percent at 28 state colleges and universities.

A December state audit found the average annual on-campus cost of attending a University System of Georgia school increased from $8,361 to $14,791, a 77 percent increase, during a recent 10-year stretch. The bulk of the costs were for housing and dining, according to the audit.

State funding for those schools, though, hasn’t kept pace, the audit found. Funding per student declined from $8,312 to $7,024 during the same time period, the audit found.

USG officials have noted their schools’ average tuition, about $7,100 a year, is the sixth lowest among the 16 states in the Southern Regional Education Board. USG average tuition and fees averaged 25 percent less than what institutions in peer states charge, the audit report found.