Statement from Chip Lake, Executive Director for the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships:
“The report released by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts confirms what our Analysis showed in August. Georgia colleges and universities have high demand and are not immune from the same competitive factors such as cuts to higher education funding that are causing tuition to rise around the nation.
“The result is a greater share of the burden of paying for college in Georgia has shifted to Georgia families. And the cuts to our cherished HOPE Scholarship have severely impacted the ability for students from around the state to attend school in Georgia.
“It’s clear that additional funding for the HOPE Scholarships needs to be a high priority for Georgia lawmakers. You can’t fix this problem any other way. Every day we do nothing, Georgia families lose.”
Article originally published: Atlanta Business Chronicle, December 29,2016
Changes to the HOPE Scholarship and the failure of state funding to keep up with enrollment growth have shifted more of the costs of higher education to students, according to a new audit.
From fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2015, the average cost for students attending a public college or university in Georgia increased 77 percent, from $8,361 a year to $14,791,
the state Department of Audits and Accounts reported this week.
The average cost for students attending a public college or university in Georgia increased 77 percent, from $8,361 a year to $14,791
The HOPE program once covered the full cost of tuition for students who earned at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in high school. But Gov. Nathan Deal steered legislation through the General Assembly in 2011 tightening the eligibility standard for full tuition coverage to a 3.7 GPA, a move driven by the impact the Great Recession was having on state tax revenues.
At the same time HOPE coverage was shrinking, state appropriations to the University System of Georgia were not keeping pace with enrollment growth, a trend that has effectively resulted in a 15 percent decrease in funding per student.
To offset that decrease, the system’s Board of Regents raised tuition during the 10 years covered by the audit substantially.
The board’s response to the audit noted the system has taken steps to reduce costs, including consolidating universities and requiring a formal review before approval of new academic programs.
Despite the increased burden on students, the audit found the cost of attending most Georgia public colleges and universities remains lower than peer institutions in other states.