It has been a week since the University System of Georgia Board of Regents implemented a 9 percent increase in tuition at the University of Georgia, as well as other tuition increases at USG schools, and students are growing concerned.
Some, such as Marqee Ivory, a freshman accounting student from Jefferson, are questioning why USG even needs to increase tuition by this much.
“I’m just trying to figure out where they came up with the number nine,” Ivory said. “Why is a 9 percent increase needed? Are we funding new buildings? Is this problem going to go away in a couple of years, or is it going to last longer than that?”
Ivory said it seems like UGA already has the money, so he does not understand why the students need to foot the bill even more than they already do for whatever they have this increased money set aside for.
Katlyn Taylor, a sophomore management information systems major from Savannah, said she hopes the money is going toward something useful.
With that being said, Taylor said the increase is upsetting, but there are a few issues she believes could be fixed with this extra money.
“We have a lot of construction going on, and that’s great,” Taylor said. “But parking is a big issue. I ran into that issue today just trying to get here and study. We definitely need better upkeep. I can see other buildings are becoming rundown, and the housing could be a lot better, especially if we’re paying that much for it.”
Sonja Roberts, marketing and communications coordinator in the Office of Communications at USG, said the funding will go towards UGA academics, programs and services, which could include fixing the issues Taylor suggested.
This funding will also be set aside for retaining and hiring more faculty, which UGA President Jere Morehead said was one of his top priorities at the State of the University Address.
Roberts said this tuition increase would help with lowering class sizes and give merit-based raises to UGA professors.
“It is more expensive to operate and offer the academic programing that a leading research institute must have for students,” Roberts said. “To continue to provide a nationally ranked public higher education offering, the USG has an obligation to invest responsibly in its research universities. Increased tuition funding will allow UGA to invest in its academics, programs and services to better support students. The funding will also help retain and hire additional faculty and help reduce class size.”
When looking at all 50 states, UGA was ranked No. 11 in 2014 out of all flagship universities, with a tuition price as low as $20,820, according to Cost of Learning.
Still, the 9 percent increase would mean students would pay around $775 extra per year, which is higher than what comparable schools such as University of Florida will be witnessing next school year.
Roberts said UGA was ranked No. 10 by Kiplinger’s “100 Best Values in Public Colleges,” and the SREB ranked USG No. 7 for lowest tuition and fees. Could other schools catch up, though, if USG is increasing tuition at higher percentages than comparable institutions?
This is not nearly as high as 2011’s tuition increase, which was a 16.5 percent increase for UGA, and Roberts said USG has several efforts underway to keep UGA one of the most affordable schools in the country.
Mandy Branch-Friar, outreach coordinator in the Office of Student Financial Aid, said compared to the national average student loan debt of $29,400, UGA comes in at $21,638 for academic year 2013-2014.
She said if students are still worried about costs, they should search for scholarships through the student’s department, job or even online.
“Make it a goal to apply for a certain amount of scholarships,” Branch-Friar said. “Keep track of that goal in either a notebook or spreadsheet. If a student writes down his or her goals, he or she will be more likely to achieve those goals.”
But Ivory is still concerned.
He said just being here one year has made him realize that HOPE does not pay for everything, so he has had to rely on his parents for help. Because of this increase, he said it is going to affect him and his budget his parents already had drawn out for him for the previous school year.
Taylor said the increase may not be as big as years past, but it has still left her and her parents wondering where this extra money is going to come from.
“My parents and I have already discussed looking elsewhere and pulling out some loans,” Taylor said. “It’s not that big of an increase, but it’s still enough to where we’re going to have to pull from money that we didn’t have to last year.”