The 2014-15 academic year will mark the third year in row that tuition for the majority of the University System of Georgia's colleges and universities, including the University of North Georgia (UNG), will rise just 2.5 percent.
The Board of Regents, which is holding its two-day April meeting on UNG's Dahlonega Campus, set the new tuition rates in a business meeting held Tuesday in the university's Library Technology Center.
"Tuition and fees in the University System continue to be an excellent value for students, but we are both mindful and sensitive to ensuring broad access to college," said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. He noted that among the 16 states of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Georgia ranks 10th among four-year and seventh among two-year institutions for tuition and fees.
Starting with fall 2014, the increase means undergraduate tuition at UNG will increase $62 for students pursuing four-year degrees to $2,549 a semester and by $36 for students pursuing two-year degrees to $1,495 a semester. Tuition for graduate degrees also will increase slightly.
In addition to approving the 2.5 percent tuition increase at 27 institutions, the Board of Regents approved targeted increases at the System's four research universities. Georgia Institute of Technology's tuition will increase 9 percent, the University of Georgia's tuition will rise 7 percent and tuition at both Georgia Regents University and Georgia State University will increase 4 percent.
USG Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs John Brown, who presented the tuition plan to the board, said the new tuition rates maintain the needed balance of state funding covering 50 percent of the cost of instruction and tuition the remaining 50 percent.
"Our differential tuition strategy gives us the flexibility to set tuition at rates that ensure our institutions can fulfill their instructional mission but also address the affordability concerns of students and parents, particularly at our access institutions," Brown said.
At the beginning of Tuesday's meeting, UNG President Bonita Jacobs spoke to the board and an audience that included USG staff and presidents and administrators from several USG institutions, welcoming them to UNG and sharing the university's recent accomplishments. Click here to read remarks.
"One of my goals has been to ensure that we are no longer 'Georgia's best-kept secret,'" Jacobs said, referring to the title of a book written by a former UNG history professor. "I want everyone, including you here today, to know that the University of North Georgia is one of the finest universities you will find anywhere, and we are gaining momentum to become a university of national distinction in multiple areas."
In addition to setting tuition rates at Tuesday's meeting, the regents approved student fees and a Fiscal Year 2015 operating budget that reflects the regents' commitment to both access and academic quality.
Mandatory fees at UNG, which include activity, special institution, technology, transportation, and other fees, will remain unchanged. On UNG's Dahlonega Campus, fees for food service and housing will be increasing slightly; meal plans will rise an average of $55, while housing rate increases will range from a low of $48 for traditional, double-occupancy housing to a high of $89 for suite-style, single occupancy.
The regents also approved a USG FY15 budget totaling $1.939 billion in state appropriations, a net increase in state funding of $56 million, or 2.97 percent after formula increases.
"This is the first year since 2008 our budget has not included a reduction," said Brown.
Along with covering increases in health insurance and benefit costs, new state dollars will be targeted in three areas: medical education, a 1 percent merit-based salary increase for faculty and staff (the first since 2009), and an initiative to help with college affordability by lowering the cost of textbooks.
An ongoing effort to increase the number of medical doctors trained and potentially working in Georgia received an additional $2 million in state funding. The dollars will go toward a program to increase the number of residency slots in Georgia hospitals, with the goal of providing 400 residency slots by 2021.
The cost of textbooks will be the focus of the System's "Affordable Learning Georgia" program, which will use $2.5 million in new state funding to the USG's GALILEO program to develop and launch a series of open source, high-quality, free electronic textbooks for core courses taught in the System. For example, an open-source electronic history textbook published in October by the University Press of North Georgia with the USG can save students nearly $100 each.
The USG's FY15 budget also includes construction projects funded by the state. The $223.9 million capital budget provides funding for equipment for new buildings, new construction, and maintenance, repair and renovation for existing buildings.
The funded projects include $2.5 million to build an annex on UNG's Oconee Campus, which has been operating at 90 percent of capacity. The USG recommends space utilization -- a measure of how frequently a space is used and whether it is at full occupancy -- at its 31 member institutions range from 50 percent to 70 percent.
For a complete list of the FY15 tuition and fee rates, visit: http://www.usg.edu/fiscal_affairs/tuition_and_fees
For a complete list of the FY15 capital projects, visit: http://www.usg.edu/facilities/capital_budget_requests.