University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby visits GPC, talks USG budget, HOPE, low-income student debt
Chancellor raises possibility of online gaming revenue helping to pay for HOPE
Says cuts to USG will not be restored
Sounds alarm about low-income students leaving school with unmanageable debt
During a recent visit to GPC, Chancellor Huckaby took some questions from the Collegian, here’s what we learned:
On whether students can expect any of the HOPE funding to be restored:
I don’t see any restoration unless there’s a substantial infusion of funds from some other source. The lottery in Georgia has done very well, but it’s a mature lottery now and that means it’s leveled off in the amount of revenues it’s gonna have each year.
The way that the fund works now, it’s triggered by the amount of revenues compared to the number of students you have and as enrollment goes up and as tuition goes up there could very well be diminution of the value of HOPE year-to-year. I think the goal this year was 85 to 90 percent tuition. We’ll have to see where that goes for 2013, 2012 fall. For it to go back to its original level it will take a pretty good infusion of new revenues. I don’t see the lottery, as structured now, as providing that. There’s some discussion that if the lottery board were to vote to extend the program to include online gaming, that that would provide a very large infusion of funds, but thus far that has not [happened].
On whether he expects cuts made to the University System of Georgia to be restored should the state’s fiscal situation improve:
No, not really. What we’re hoping for right now going forward is that our budget request for 2013, which is driven by the funding formula, will be funded. At this point that would be about 102 million dollars for the [financial year 2013] budget. The year that we’re currently in, the funding formula identified that we qualified for $177 million. We didn’t get any of that.
I’ve been around a long time, in fact I was state budget director in the ‘90s and we had to make cuts to the University System then and none of those have been restored. Once you don’t get it you don’t get it, unfortunately.
On low-income students and debt:
One of my growing concerns is that more and more students are graduating college with a lot of debt. That is one thing if you’re going to University to become a doctor or an attorney. Your earning substantial money is much higher, so you can probably retire that debt in a relatively short time. It’s very difficult, particularly if, say, you’re going to be a school teacher, to retire a lot of debt. There are some programs being put in place. If you’re in the STEM program, come out with science, technology, engineering, mathematics then you go into to teaching, then some of that debt can be retired. It is a concern, there are more and more students going into high levels of debt. We in this state have got to do a better job of finding a way to provide loans and scholarships, particularly scholarships, to low-income students so that they can go to college without having to come out with a lot of debt.
Photo by Louie Favorite, for Georgia Perimeter College public relations