Photo by Maria Furukawa

Students throughout the state of Georgia will have one less thing to worry about during the next academic year.

The Board of Regents (BOR) announced on Feb. 16 that, for the first time since the fiscal year of 2010, there will be no in-state or out-of-state tuition increases for students attending the 29 University System of Georgia (USG) schools in the 2016–2017 year.

“We have heard from students, parents and legislators regarding year-over-year tuition increases citing concerns about the rising costs of a college education in Georgia,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby in a USG press release. “We recognize and share their concerns about college affordability. [This news] demonstrates we are listening to students, their families and legislators and taking … action.”

“We carefully assess the tuition rates for our institutions,” said USG Chairman Kessel Stelling in the same release, “and are committed to keeping college as affordable as possible for students and their families.

“We recognize and share their concerns about college affordability. Today’s announcement demonstrates we are listening to students, their families and legislators and taking
meaningful action.”

The freeze in tuition comes amidst ongoing conversation in the Georgia legislature about how tuition increases should be calculated and implemented.

House Resolution 1326, sponsored by Representative Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City,  would alter the state constitution to prohibit annual tuition and student fee increases greater than that year’s inflation rate.

Last academic year, tuition costs at Tech rose by nine percent, while the CPI’s gauge of inflation registered at a rate of only 0.7 percent. Such differentials would be disallowed under a new law, save for specific circumstances.

A pair of legislative committees would be permitted to approve in tandem greater increases due to exceptional circumstances; for example, a recession or a merger between schools would create the necessity to raise tuition prices more than in a normal year.

The bill would create the first situations in which the BOR would not have complete control over matters of tuition and fee increases.

Typically, final decisions on tuition rates are suggested by the Board and signed off on by the governor in April with the rest of the state budget.

Rep. Ramsey’s resolution is currently in the House Rules Committee. As such, it has cleared the first hurdle and may be scheduled for a vote before the full state House of Representatives in the near future.