The state board that oversees the Technical College System of Georgia has approved the system’s request for a tuition increase of $4 per credit hour starting with the upcoming fall semester.
The board voted unanimously to accept the increase during ITS monthly meeting at the TCSG’s Atlanta office on Thursday.
When the increase goes into effect, students at the 24 TCSG colleges will pay $89 per credit hour in a standard program. The average tuition for a full, 15-hour course load in the fall will cost $1,335, plus books and fees.
TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson told the board members that the system has done all that it can to hold down enrollment costs but that operational expenses, including those for cutting-edge technology programs, keep rising.
“Georgia’s technical colleges still offer great value for the students that we serve, and our programs result in high job placement rates for our graduates. TCSG tuition, even with the increase, remains relatively low compared to other states. Still, we understand the concerns of that our students and their families may have regarding any additional cost. Our college presidents and their staff are committed to continuing to help their students obtain the financial help that they deserve, including some valuable new assistance from the state,” said Jackson.
Last year, almost 82,000 of the 151,000 students who enrolled in the TCSG colleges were HOPE recipients, with the vast majority using the HOPE Grant. Even with the latest increase, students who qualify for the HOPE Grant will have about 73% of their tuition funded, leaving them responsible for paying only the smaller portion. And thousands of TCSG students will benefit from three new types of tuition assistance that Georgia will add this year.
Starting in the fall, the new Zell Miller HOPE Grant will pay 100 percent of tuition for students who enroll in certificate and diploma programs and maintain a 3.5 grade point average or better. It is estimated that the Zell Miller Grant will benefit at least 16,000 TCSG students.
In addition, the state’s FY2015 budget will fund the expansion of Georgia’s Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant (SIWDG), meaning that TCSG students who enroll in any one of seven high-demand program areas – practical nursing, early childhood care and education, commercial truck driving, welding, healthcare technologies, diesel mechanic and information technology – can use the SIWDG as a supplement to their HOPE Grant. Combined, the two grants will cover all of the cost of their tuition as well as some of their books and fees. Over the next year, an estimated 12,000 TCSG students are expected to make good use of the SIWDG.
Also new this year, TCSG students who need additional financial assistance will be eligible to apply for a one percent loan through the Georgia Student Finance Commission. Students who graduate with a 3.5 GPA or better will have their loan forgiven.
Many students can also reduce the cost of their TCSG education if they qualify for the federal Pell Grant, which is awarded based on their financial need. Last year, more than 91,000 TCSG students utilized the Pell Grant to help pay for their tuition, books and fees.