February 17, 2016 11:21 AM
On Tuesday, the University System of Georgia’s chancellor, Hank Huckaby, announced a freeze on tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year. This comes as lawmakers are considering legislation that would cap tuition at the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
H.R. 1326, introduced by Georgia House Majority Leader Matt Ramsey (R-72), will change the state constitution to limit tuition increases to no more than the inflation rate. However, if there is a recession, a decline in state appropriations, or if the school merges or changes its mission, then a pair of legislative committees can vote to allow a bigger increase.
Last year, the Board of Regents raised tuition costs from 2.5 percent at most schools to as much as 9 percent at the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and two other schools. Meanwhile, the CPI registers only a 0.7 percent inflation rate for 2015. The University System staff tells the regents that the need for such high increases is because Georgia charges significantly less than comparable schools and that the bargain tarnishes the prestige. Ramsey dismisses the argument by pointing out that other states have instituted laws restraining tuition increases without hurting their academic reputations.
Ramsey and Huckaby support the bill because of the many complaints they have heard from parents about jarring tuition increases:
“Parents save and save with a plan for their kids to go to college,” said Ramsey. “They can’t keep up with it. So this is a reasonable and common-sense restraint on the growth of tuition in Georgia.”
“We have heard from students, parents, and legislators regarding year-over-year tuition increases citing concerns about the rising costs of a college education in Georgia,” said Huckaby. “We recognize and share their concerns about college affordability. Today’s announcement demonstrates we are listening to students, their families, and legislators and taking meaningful action.”
The legislation is currently in the House Rules Committee where it could be quickly scheduled for a vote before the full House anytime.