Tuition and fees will rise at Georgia public universities in fall 2024


BARNESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Students will pay more to attend Georgia's public universities and colleges in the the 2024-2025 academic year, with officials saying schools face rising costs and must charge more to maintain a quality education.

Regents voted Tuesday to increase tuition and fees at the system's 26 schools. The typical Georgia school will charge in-state undergraduates $6,466 in tuition and mandatory fees next year, up 2.4% from $6,317 this year.

Tuition and fees will range from $3,506 at Swainsboro-based East Georgia State College to $12,058 at Georgia Tech.

The typical student will still be paying less than in 2022, though. After that year, regents eliminated a fee that was charged on top of tuition, lowering costs at almost all institutions.

University System Chief Fiscal Officer Tracey Cook told regents that universities are paying higher costs for items including technology, software, food, utilities and insurance, while they are also having to spend more on employee salaries. While state appropriations fund pay raises for most academic employees, universities must fund pay raises for most support employees out of their own funds.

"We must at times increase tuition to maintain a consistent standard of quality, to improving how we graduate and retain our students, and as discussed, keep pace with rising costs, while we look for ways to be more efficient," Cook told regents during a Tuesday meeting at Gordon State College in Barnesville.

Costs to rent dormitory rooms and buy meal plans will also rise systemwide.

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

For students receiving lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships, the scholarship will pay for higher tuition. However, students and their families must themselves pay for mandatory fees. Although many Georgia students receive other types of financial aid, more than 35% now borrow to pay for college with some students borrowing more than $5,500 on average.

The university system also approved a further increase in tuition for students coming from outside the country. They will now pay 2% more than students from outside Georgia, who already pay tuition rates that are three times or more than in-state students pay. Institutions sometimes waive out-of-state charges.

The system also said it would increase fees for students taking classes online at most universities. Many schools have been waiving all or part of their mandatory fees, because online students don't benefit from some of the things student fees pay for, such as student activities or athletics. Fees for online students would remain less than for in-person students.

Officials said student fees weren't generating enough money to provide a financial cushion for projects they finance, such as student centers, recreation and athletic facilities and parking garages.

”Less students paying these fees translates into less revenue to cover expenses," Cook said. “And these declines in revenues are occurring while institutions are experiencing an increase in costs.”

The state will fund nearly $3.4 billion of the system’s roughly $9 billion budget in the year beginning July 1. Lawmakers boosted state funding for universities by $200 million, or 6.4%, under a budget awaiting Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature. Of that amount, $97 million are for 4% salary increases for employees. Lawmakers also restored $66 million in teaching funds that were cut in a dispute last year. Regents said they would continue to give some extra money to smaller schools with shrinking enrollment.

Regent Douglas Aldridge of Chattahoochee Hills said the budget increase will “go a long way in providing a quality education experience for our students”