Local universities work to cut student costs after Obama put them on 'notice'

By: Justin Fabiano Email
By: Justin Fabiano Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The president is keeping his eye on colleges and universities.

"Let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down," said President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address Tuesday.

Colleges in Aiken and Augusta are accepting his challenge with open arms.

"There's no organization that can't find a way over time to be more efficient than we have been," said USC Aiken Chancellor Tom Hallman.

They also say it won't be easy. The biggest challenge is trying to keep costs low but still provide a good education.

"Quality education costs money. In other words, if you get the best professors, that's going to be an expense -- it's a competitive market out there," said GHSU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz.

Azziz says GHSU uses telecommunications as a cheaper alternative to students who may not be able to move to Augusta, and the benefits are two-fold.

"That actually reduces the cost of that education, as well as facilitates access," he said.

He also says providing year-round classes helps students save money.

"That adds to our students' ability to graduate more quickly through that process," Azziz said.

Across the river, USC Aiken says it also offers online coursework to students, but they concentrate on the big picture of cutting costs.

"The energy costs. We've [taken] every opportunity to save on energy," Hallman said.

Obama also challenged states on higher education. He pushed them to make colleges a higher priority when it comes to drawing up the budgets. Both Hallman and Azziz told News 12 they understand what they states are going through and are concentrating on one goal.

"At the end of the day, what we want to do is make sure students who come in to our universities succeed, succeed in a timely manner and succeed in a cost effective manner," Azziz said.

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