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Thursday, June 13, 2024

University System of Georgia 2024-2025 Tuition Rate Increase Will Impact 3 HBCUs

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) voted Tuesday to approve tuition rates for the 2024-25 academic year at USG’s 26 public colleges and universities. Systemwide, in-state undergraduate tuition will increase by 2.5%, and out-of-state tuition will increase by 5%.

A new, third level of tuition for out-of-country students will also be established at 2% more than the rate for out-of-state students.

Among the 26 public colleges and universities, the increase will impact three Georgia HBCUs: Albany State University, Fort Valley State University, and Savannah State University.

This comes as the Board kept tuition flat at all but one USG institution for six of the past eight years. Escalating costs for people, goods and services, increased competition from the private sector for talent, and overall inflation have all contributed to growing pressure on institutional budgets, resulting in Tuesday’s decision.

“USG’s strong commitment to keeping college affordable for students in Georgia has meant average tuition increases for an undergraduate, in-state Georgia student over the past eight years have been less than 1%, well below the rate of inflation.”

The three public HBCUs impacted have a complicated history with USG. The tuition rate increase comes after three Georgia HBCU alumni sued the board and state in October 2023, –alleging USG underfunded the same HBCUs impacted by the increase: Fort Valley State University (FVSU), Savannah State University (SSU), and Albany State University (ASU) for years.

HBCUs are 1890 land-grant Institutions entitled to the same funding as their PWI state counterparts yet, reports show, they have been historically underfunded since inception.

Alumni Martrice Herrington, Marchea Herrington, and Reginald Hunter filed the lawsuit Oct. 24, alleging intentional discrimination against the HBCUs and violation of the 14th Amendment due to the underfunding. FVSU alone was underfunded by $603,156,480 in the past 30 years, according to the lawsuit.

“Separate but equal is not constitutional in the field of education. We’re also suing under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin,” one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, John Moore, told 11alive.com last year.

Photo Courtesy of Georgia House of Representatives Media Services Office.

The lawsuit was filed a month after the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent letters to 16 state governors saying their states owe a collective $12 billion to their HBCUs. State Reps. Sandra Scott, Viola Davis, and Kim Schofield publicly announced their support for the Georgia HBCU alumni’s lawsuit.

“Between fiscal years 2011 and 2022, Black land-grant universities alone lost nearly $200 million in resources because states declined to provide matching funds,” said Scott in a press release.

Meanwhile, she said, other land-grant universities were fully funded.

Federal grants that were supposed to go to HBCUs did not go to the designated HBCUs as intended. In 2010, there was a lawsuit just like this one involving the same three HBCUs.

In that lawsuit, the state won, which meant that the courts deemed the state was funding the HBCUs properly. This time around, the case could have a different outcome. Many public HBCUs have gone through the fight in need of more funding.

The 2023 lawsuit stated that ‘publicly available data shows FVSU missed out on over $603 million in funding from Georgia’ from 1987 to 2020. In fiscal year 2007, the University of Georgia (UGA) received almost $350 million from the state. FVSU received almost $20 million; SSU received about $17 million, and ASU received about $20 million.

Among the 16 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states, Georgia is the third lowest in average undergraduate tuition and required fees compared to its public peers, according to national data from the College Board. College Board data also ranks USG as the sixth lowest in average tuition and fees compared to its peers across the nation, making USG institutions an excellent value for Georgia students and families.

“Maintaining affordability is one of the highest priorities of the university system and the Board of Regents,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue.

“We are a good deal for Georgians, and we have worked to protect that value, particularly for our Georgia undergraduates as we balance affordability with institutional sustainability and academic quality,’ Perdue continued. “Our institutions face increasing costs to operate, and we must sustain their momentum as some of the best in the nation at helping students succeed on campus and in the workforce.”

The board additionally approved changes to the mandatory fee structure at 20 of USG’s 26 institutions to address the significant growth in the number of students taking classes via fully online course delivery.

The University System of Georgia says the approved structure means fully online students ‘will be charged an online learning fee equivalent to their institution’s technology fee,’ as well as 50% of their institution’s mandatory fees. “This change provides more consistency to the institutional fees for all students. Mandatory fees support and enhance campus programming and student-focused activities, technology, and athletic programs – all critical components of the college experience.”

“Student affordability remains a priority of the Board and USG,” the statement read.

“Similar to many Georgia families, institutions are experiencing rising costs of goods and services including escalating costs for technology, software, food, utilities, and insurance. Labor costs are also escalating. Additionally, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in FY21, the university system sustained a budget reduction of $230 million.”

Tuition rates for each institution may be found here.

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