Friday, May 14, 2010

Regents Approve Fiscal Year 2011 University System Budget; Set Tuition

The University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents took action on the System’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 operating budget, which includes setting tuition rates. The actions of the board support its philosophy of providing a balance between broad access to public higher education and academic quality in its 35 degree-granting institutions.

The FY 2011 USG appropriation, as passed by the General Assembly as part of the overall State budget, is $1.95 billion, which is a cumulative decrease of $227 million, or 10.4 percent, from the original state budget in FY 2010 of $2.17 billion.

With respect to tuition, starting this fall, most students will pay tuition increases ranging from a low of $50 per semester at two-year colleges to a high of $500 per semester at the four research universities. The board made clear by its actions its determination to maintain the Guaranteed Tuition Plan (also known as “fixed for four”) for those students still covered by this plan. To offset the increases for the most financially needy students, the regents have called upon the research universities to provide need-based aid for students on Pell Grants.

“Our tuition strategy helps us to preserve both access and quality, but we are not accomplishing these goals by shifting all of our costs to students and families,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr.

The tuition increase will generate $80 million to help offset the $227 million reduction in the FY 2011 budget.

In a presentation to the board on budget and tuition, USG Chief Financial Officer Usha Ramachandran laid out the overall tuition strategy. She said that the regents’ goals of preserving access and protecting quality must be viewed against the reality of financing higher education. “While we have become more efficient and productive, at the same time costs are going up, as well as demand for higher education,” she said.

Ramachandran pointed out that as a result of ongoing reductions in state appropriations, the state funding per full time equivalent student (FTE) is projected to be $6,242 in FY 2011, down almost 25 percent from the peak of $8,294, which occurred in FY 2001.

Tuition in fall 2010 for all students will vary according to the institution attended. The strategy is to ensure that tuition is competitive within the state at the two-year and state colleges, competitive regionally at the regional and comprehensive universities, and nationally competitive at the research universities. Students who enrolled under the Guaranteed Tuition Plan in fall 2006 and who come off that plan in fall 2010, along with freshmen and sophomores, will pay the new tuition rates. Students who enrolled in fall 2007 and fall 2008 under the Guaranteed Tuition Plan will see no change in their tuition rates.

Undergraduate students attending one of the four research universities (Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Medical College of Georgia or the University of Georgia) will pay $3,535 per semester, an increase from fall 2009 of $500. Even with the $500 increase, the tuition at UGA, Georgia Tech and Georgia State will be either just below or at the median of undergraduate tuition paid among these institutions’ national peers.

Students attending one of the research universities who are eligible for Pell Grants also will have access to need-based aid to help offset the $500 tuition increase. Officials are finalizing the guidelines for these students and the program will be administered separately by each of the four research universities.

Students attending state universities with specialized missions will see an increase from fall 2009 of $300 per semester. At Columbus State, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, North Georgia, Valdosta State, and West Georgia, students will pay $2,298 per semester, at Southern Polytechnic, $2,489, and at Georgia College $3,142.

Tuition at all other state universities will increase by $200 to $2,137 per semester. This includes: Albany State, Armstrong Atlantic, Augusta State, Clayton State, Fort Valley, Georgia Southwestern, and Savannah State.

Tuition at the state colleges will increase $100, to $1,347 per semester, including Abraham Baldwin, College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State, Gainesville State, Gordon, Macon State and Middle Georgia. Tuition at Georgia Gwinnett College also will increase $100 from fall 2009 to fall 2010, but the total tuition per semester will be $1,600.

Tuition at the two-year colleges will be $1,199, a $50 increase from fall 2009. This includes Atlanta Metro, Bainbridge, Darton, East Georgia, Georgia Highlands, Georgia Perimeter, South Georgia and Waycross.


The overall System budget as approved by the General Assembly is attentive to two of the board’s most critical FY 2011 funding priorities — supporting the increased student enrollment the USG is experiencing and continuing the funding of the statewide expansion of physician education to meet a critical need for more doctors in Georgia.

“This budget not only will provide the tools and balanced strategy to maintain academic excellence, but also will position the System to help drive future economic growth in Georgia,” said Board Chair Robert F. Hatcher. “We are very grateful to the Governor and the General Assembly for their continued support of the University System of Georgia.”

The final state appropriation for FY 2011 increases the USG’s funding by $107.8 million to provide critical state support for new students who entered the University System in Fall 2008. (The formula is calculated annually using two-year-old enrollment data. In Fall 2008, enrollment increased 5.6 percent, generating an increase of 398,000 in the number of credit hours of instruction taken by students.)

The Regents approved a strategy to allocate from the $107.8 million for enrollment growth $51 million to maintain academic quality and $51 million to meet enrollment growth at its colleges and universities, with the remaining $5.8 million to be used to address other System priorities.

The FY 2011 budget also includes an incremental $900,000 to enable the regents to continue the momentum of an effort launched two years ago to expand physician education in Georgia by increasing the capacity and reach of the Medical College of Georgia’s (MCG) School of Medicine from its home campus in Augusta to Athens, Albany and Savannah.

Other additions total $11.2 million to cover cost adjustments for the Teachers’ Retirement System, workman’s compensation premiums, unemployment insurance and miscellaneous operations of the System.

These additions are more than offset by $161 million in incremental reductions from the FY 2010 Amended Budget to FY 2011.

The General Assembly also approved a capital budget for the USG that totals $183.7 million. This includes:

$60 million in Major Repair and Renovation (MRR) bond funds;
$20.1 million for equipment funds for seven previously funded projects at the College of Coastal Georgia, Fort Valley State University, Gainesville State College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Macon State College, Southern Polytechnic State University and the University of Georgia;
$9.7 million for three infrastructure projects at Columbus State University, Kennesaw State University, and North Georgia College & State University;
$51.4 million in construction funding for eight projects at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Atlanta Metropolitan College, Darton College, East Georgia College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Southern University, and Georgia Southwestern State University;
$9.7 million in design and construction funds for two projects at the College of Coastal Georgia and South Georgia College;
$20.6 million in design funds for seven projects at Albany State University, Augusta State University, Dalton State College, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Valdosta State University and UGA;
$3.7 million for three Georgia Public Library projects in Greene County, Lafayette-Walker County, and Madison County; and
$8.5 million for the Georgia Research Alliance.
Board approval of the Fiscal Year 2011 budget and allocations as well as facilities construction is dependent upon final approval of the state budget and bond package by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

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