ATLANTA (AP) – The 340,000 students at Georgia’s public universities and colleges won’t pay more for classes next fall, with regents on Tuesday approving flat tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Officials say they could hold tuition flat at the 26 schools for the second year in a row – and the fourth year out of six – thanks to federal relief money and a slight increase in state funding.
According to the Southern Regional Education Board, the typical Georgia undergraduate was charged $7,142 in tuition and mandatory fees this year. Many paid less because of financial aid or HOPE scholarships. Georgia’s sticker price was lower than all but three other states in the 16-state region.
“The system’s priorities of graduating more students, affordability, and efficiency are at the forefront when setting tuition rates,” Vice-Chancellor Tracey Cook told regents.
Tuition and mandatory fees for two full semesters will range from $12,852 at Georgia Tech to $3,806 at East Georgia State College. System officials said tuition has risen an average of 0.75% annually since 2016, below the broader inflation rate.
Cook acknowledged that many universities made painful budget cuts last year when schools had to refund students or forgo hundreds of millions in revenue when in-person classes were canceled. Much of that money came out of the system’s $1 billion budget for auxiliary operations such as dormitories and food service.
The system then took a 10% cut in state funds, equal to $240 million. But officials said raising prices on students would be the wrong move when many families have seen their income drop during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Holding tuition flat for another year recognizes the financial hardships faced by many of our students and their families during the pandemic,” Cook said. The system is in line for a $157 million boost in state funding mainly tied to Gov enrollment growth. Brian Kemp signs the budget for the year beginning July 1. Lawmakers essentially didn’t restore formula funding they had cut, though, besides $8 million they put back for units that don’t get student revenue, such as the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
Outgoing Chancellor Steve Wrigley said state money will be needed in the future to keep tuition low. “State funding is critical to ensure we can continue on this track, so we are very grateful for the support that we have received,” Wrigley told regents.
Wrigley said federal money will be used to address revenue shortfalls and also on capital spending. University System of Georgia officials said earlier they would also use the money to pay $1,000 bonuses to employees, mirroring plans to pay dividends to K-12 and state employees.