Audit of the Increased Cost of Attendance in Georgia

POSTED BY MARTIN KICH

Here is another Georgia-related item for today. In an article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Christopher Quinn reports on a state auditor’s study of the rising costs to students attending Georgia’s public colleges and universities. What has been occurring in Georgia is very similar to what has been occurring elsewhere—even to the observation, meant to provide some solace, that although things have been deteriorating in an unsustainable way in “our” state, they have deteriorated even worse in some neighboring states:

A state auditor’s review of college costs in Georgia has given legislators a base line for an outside study of college affordability and will help them prepare a plan to keep the University System of Georgia and technical schools churning out graduates in high-demand fields.

The review describes the clockwork behind the face of the 77 percent increase in the cost of attendance at a state college or university in the past 10 years. Parents and students have had to pick up more of the costs as the average price of attendance at a state school swelled from $8,361 a year in 2006 to $14,791 in 2016.

This happened as average HOPE scholarship awards dropped, inflation pushed up prices, state appropriations failed to keep pace with growing numbers of students, and institutions increased fees to cover rising costs and pay for programs such as adding football teams.

The good news in the report is that the average cost of a state college education in Georgia is still 25 percent cheaper on average than what peer institutions in other states charge, the auditor’s review says. . . .

The state auditor’s review says some factors that drove up college costs between 2006 and 2015 include:

— An effective decrease in state funding per student of $2,448, adjusted for inflation, as state appropriations failed to keep up with increasing student enrollment.

— University System increases in fees of $2,069 per student, adjusted for inflation, to keep pace with the “loss” of appropriations.

— Average awards from HOPE scholarships decreased $1,087 a year. Institutions increased facility fees by an average of $286 per school year. The fees pay for facilities such as stadiums, recreation centers, parking decks and student centers.

— Athletic fees, which pay for sports programs, grew by an average of $132 per school year. Housing and dining costs increased 56 percent to 60 percent, more than double the cost of inflation.

Quinn’s complete article is available at: http://www.myajc.com/news/local-education/georgia-rising-cost-college-detailed-auditor-review/mRKEgsOzjSJ498AfYEjDLP/.

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