Tuition holds steady at AU, most Georgia public universities

She says the road to education has never been easy.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 2:26 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - The cost of attending Augusta University will remain mostly flat in the 2023-2024 academic year, despite concerns about a funding cut.

University System of Georgia regents voted Tuesday to increase tuition or fees at only 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.

It comes as Chancellor Sonny Perdue says 82% of the cash on hand for the university system, is held at only six institutions, and much is already earmarked.

The system is grappling with a budget cut – and AU is at the center of it.

The cut grow out of a push by Lt. Gov. Burt Jones to allow hospitals to be built in rural counties without state permits. That push was opposed by Marietta-based Wellstar Health System. Wellstar is taking over AU Health’s hospitals, and Jones used the budget cut to attack that deal and the university system.

By leaving tuition the same, Regent Neal Pruitt Jr. of Atlanta said the system is “trying to balance affordability with quality of instruction” and is relying on lawmakers to restore the $66 million cut from the teaching budget as a part of the hospital dispute.

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

Regents also made changes to how they allocate $3.2 billion in state funds among the schools, but those changes weren’t immediately clear. Officials not immediately provide a copy of the funding breakdown on which regents voted.

The University System of Georgia has a total yearly budget of $9 billion, including state money, tuition and fees and other revenue.

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

Last year, student costs fell 7.6% systemwide, as regents eliminated a fee charged on top of tuition.

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

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

Costs to rent dormitory rooms or buy meal plans will rise systemwide by 4% on average.

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

Students who receive Georgia’s lottery-funded HOPE scholarships will get a boost next fall after lawmakers ordered the Georgia Student Finance Commission to cover full tuition for recipients who graduate high school with a B average and maintain that average in college. That was the original aim of the program, but the state has only been paying 100% for Zell Miller Scholars who earn higher grades and meet a minimum standardized test score. Others received 90% this year.

HOPE Scholarships do not cover fees.

Regents had delayed setting tuition in April, saying they needed more time to assess cuts.

State senators, who insisted on the $66 million cut, said universities should cover the shortfall with some of their roughly $500 million in cash on hand.