I’m on a roll tonight. I wrote this about the proposal to raise Georgia college tuition by 77%. (I did some calculation and that would make my tuition about $8,000 a year. Holy smokes. I really hope that would be covered by the HOPE Scholarship.) I have submitted it to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for possible publication.
Board of Regents, stop bleeding us dry!
By Emma Harger
Georgia public college students like me are the new ATM to the Board of Regents. When they need money to cover their gaping budget deficits, instead of looking within their organization to cut costs, they just raise our fees. Two special mandatory fees, $100 each for Georgia State University students, have already been levied and now there is a proposal to raise tuition by 77 percent for University System of Georgia schools.
This is absurd. At a time when college enrollment is on the rise, especially at Georgia State, it feels like we get less but pay more for it. Many classes have been reduced or eliminated. At Georgia State, classes with less than 15 students are at a high risk of elimination, even if the low enrollment is due to the class being specialized or requiring many prerequisites.
Other classes have fewer sections available, even capstone classes required to graduate. I know many students who are at Georgia State for their fifth or sixth years, aching to graduate but unable to get into the classes they need to do so. I am in my third year but anxious about my future ability to get into a certain capstone class necessary for everyone in my major, a class with a very low enrollment cap because it requires each student to write a 25-page paper.
Mandatory furlough days, another cost-cutting measure, affect staff and operations university-wide. Interestingly, while furloughs happen at the university level, the Board of Regents seems unwilling to take even a 1 percent cut to their pay, which totals over $500,000 for Chancellor Errol Davis and in the six-figure range for the Vice Chancellors.
I guess they have their priorities straight: bleed dry the students, a group not known for affluence, but tightening their own belts is out of the question. Many students already have difficulty paying the fees we have now, especially students whose parents are not or cannot support them financially. If tuition were to rise 77 percent, students like these face the possibility of having to quit school due to costs.
The Board of Regents should know that having an educated population is important and they should ideally keep costs low so more people can enjoy the benefits of higher education. However, certain state Representatives also need to rethink their attitude toward education.
Rep. Don Balfour (R-Snellville), who seems to think affordable education is tantamount to socialism (the new buzzword do-nothing, say-no-to-everything Republicans use to describe things they are against), has a son in college. He complained that his son’s tuition is “embarrassingly cheap.” Representative, what is embarrassing about not going into astronomical debt paying for your child’s education? My parents are thankful that my $4,496 yearly tuition is that amount and paid for, except for the additional fees, by the HOPE Scholarship. You should be thankful too.
If you think—wrongly—that your child’s quality of education is linked to the costs you pay in tuition, perhaps you should send him to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, the most expensive school in the country. Tuition and room and board there total over $53,000 and probably cost more for out-of-state students.
With a Board of Regents unwilling to suggest internal cuts, and a General Assembly unwilling to acknowledge the importance of affordable education, unfortunately I feel that college students in Georgia will serve as ATMs into the foreseeable future.