Fees going up for Georgia college students - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fees going up for Georgia college students

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The cost of higher education keeps getting higher. Georgia students will have to fork over more money next year because of budget problems.

Tuesday, the Board of Regents ordered an 8-percent budget cut at the system's 35-schools. The budget plan also includes doubling mandatory fees students were hit with last year to make up for the state's budget shortfall.

The Board of Regents cites a drop in state tax collections as part of the reason for more budget reductions. With something as simple as a textbook costing in the hundreds, students say they can't handle anymore increases.

On many afternoons you can find Darton College student Wesley Higdon joking around on campus. But he'll be the first to tell you that the college life is no joke financially. "Financially it's kind of hard," said Higdon.

That's why when he isn't taking a short break, he's putting in at least 17 hours a week for work study on campus. "It helps with putting gas in my car and a little change in my pocket but other than that it's not a big help," said Higdon.

Something new won't help Higdon or other student's budgets soon. The mandatory fee they already pay will be doubled. "I don't think it's right," said Higdon, "Why should you go up on the prices of that when it doesn't even do anything for us?"

The fee increase comes as part of the University System of Georgia's 8-percent budget reduction plan. That's 2-percent more than what schools like Darton had to cut last fiscal year. "We are being as conservative as we can possibly be," said Darton College Director of Communications Krista Robitz.

Starting next semester, students at 2-year schools like Darton will have to pay $100 dollars. At most four-year institutions, students will pay $150. At research universities, that fee will increase to $200. "We have a lot of students who are non-traditional, who maybe were laid off from Cooper, who lost their job, who are coming here to start over and get a brand new start so sure it's going to impact," said Robitz.

That impact should generate $24-million statewide but schools will still have to make more cuts. Darton has already had to furlough employees and come up with action plans for other parts of their budget. So far they haven't had to implement layoffs. "We have not gone in that direction. We have no plans to go in that direction," said Robitz.

With plans to be an occupational therapist, Higdon will just have to deal with the new fee on top of everything else including expensive textbooks. "Oh that's ridiculous. Like a math book that you would only use three or four times for a class is going for $159 or $165," said Higdon. He hopes to keep a good sense of humor with the cost of higher education.

The board approved a moratorium on student fee increases for the following fiscal year.

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