GA legislators in favor of tuition hikes

“We have got to cut approximately another 200 to 300 million dollars out of your budget, please prioritize where those cuts will come, if not we will do it blindly, but we have no choice.” said Ga. State Senator Seth Harp during the budget presentation of Chancellor Erroll Davis on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The joint House-Senate budget committee announced that the $385 million budget cut needed to be outlined by Feb. 26, or the joint budgetary committee on higher education would make the cuts for the institutions. The cuts, roughly equivalent to the entire allocation made to the University of Georgia, are part of the overall state budget reduction of $1 billion. Ideas as radical as consolidating universities, eliminating schools or implementing an across-the-board one percent salary reduction were offered, but the conversation returned multiple times to increasing the tuition of University System of Georgia (USG) students.

The changes in budget allocation available to Davis are limited however, as the majority of the USG budget is discretionary, with individual schools allocating their funds as they see fit. In fact, tuition is one of the few areas that fall entirely under the purview of the Chancellor.

“It would require an increase of 77 percent in tuition to meet the $385 million. Research institute tuition today is about 6,000, that would go to about 10,000, our two-year schools would go from about 2,300 to over 4,000 dollars,” Davis said.

This increase in tuition would effect out-of-state students as well. All out-of-state students pay four times the in-state tuition, meaning Tech’s out-of-state students would now pay 40,000 in tuition, plus mandatory fees.

“As yesterday’s subcommittee hearings affirmed, there is no doubt that the ability of the state to subsidize the cost of higher education is diminishing. Currently, tuition covers only 16 percent of the cost. State appropriations make up another 22 percent. The remainder is provided by sponsored funding, gifts and other sources.” said James Fetig, associate vice president of communications and marketing.

When asked how he felt that a 77 percent tuition hike would be received by students, Undergraduate SGA Executive Vice President Parker Hancock said, “Most students will obviously be very angry, very upset. I know for a lot of people going to college is a big burden on their families, or on themselves if they are trying to pay for it out of pocket, and I don’t know how they are going to get by.”

Some legislators seemed more willing than other to approve a tuition hike in the face of a down economy. Senator Don Balfour said, “I personally have no problem with you raising tuition at all, I mean, when we start going to zero [funding] and we aren’t giving you any money, the students are the only people who can pay.”

There was resistance to his view, including Senator Bill Hembree who said “I hope that you [Davis] will pledge to us today that if you do use that avenue of pursuing tuition increases that you wont do it in a complete way so that you are simply pushing that off to the people in this state who send their kids to college.”

“I think that, as students, we understand and even anticipate a tuition hike. It’s only logical in a recession that students help sustain the quality of their education…. However, it is absurd to see such an increase,” said Undergraduate SGA President Alina Staskevicius.