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Perimeter College fears of tuition increases quelled

The cost of college tuition will not increase next fall. The Board of Regents concluded on Feb. 16 its decision to not raise tuition in the 29 Georgia public colleges for the 2016-2017 academic year.

According to Fox 5, this is the first year since 2002 that the University System of Georgia has decided not to raise tuition in some form. It also ends the fourth consecutive year that Georgia’s universities have seen a 2.5 percent raise in tuition. Chancellor Hank Huckaby, said the decision showed that the board was “listening to students, their families and legislators.”

The announcement comes one month after Georgia lawmakers pressed Huckaby in a hearing about some of the increases in tuition in recent years, with Georgia State University, University of Georgia and Georgia Tech receiving some of the largest increases last year.

On Feb. 10, House Majority Leader Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), sponsored a bill that would cap the raising of tuition to that of the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). House Resolution 1326 would give some respite to struggling college students who have seen a consistent increase in their tuition over the last few years. In 2015, Universities in Georgia had seen an increase in tuition between 2.5-9 percent. Meanwhile, the CPI was recorded at a 0.7 percent inflation rate.

During the hearing, the chancellor mentioned some of the complaints he received as a result of the tuition hikes. According to The Augusta Chronicle, “That is not likely to happen again, and there were some specific circumstances for that,” he said of the increased rates.

Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) questioned Huckaby, “You said there was a unique circumstance there. Could you address that?”

Huckaby named pay raises as one of the reasons for the higher tuition.

“If we don’t increase pay for our best faculty, we’re going to lose our best faculty. If we lose our best faculty, we’re not going to make our obligation to have an educated and prepared workforce,” Huckaby said.

Last year, the board was spotlighted when, under Huckaby’s approved recommendations, the Regents decided to raise the salaries of most of the presidents in the USG. Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson and Georgia State University President Mark Becker both topped the list, receiving raises that put their total compensation above $1 million.

The trends found in tuition increases do not follow that of general inflation. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, since 1980 tuition at public universities has increased faster than inflation. Since 1990, two and four year public universities saw an increase in average tuition by 161 percent and 102 percent respectively. Over the past three decades, the cost of a college education has increased 12 fold, according to Bloomberg Business.

H.R. 1326 would require approval from two-thirds of the House and Senate, as well as approval from Georgia voters. As of yet, the board has not taken a stance on the proposal to cap tuition increases.

After Gov. Nathan deal will sign a budget into law this spring, the regents will decide on tuition increases again.

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