Higher education deals with lower funding - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Higher education deals with lower funding

October 4, 2004

Americus-- One area University president says his school has hit its limit and take any more state budget cuts.

The latest rounds could cut at the heart of the school, and mean tuition hikes for students. For the past two years, Georgia's colleges and universities have been pinching pennies, facing budget cuts totaling nearly $400 million.

Schools like Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus have managed to stay afloat. But the latest cuts-- now another half-million dollars-- are punching holes in their life-boat.

"Well quite frankly I think we have and I think all the institutions feel that way," said GSW President Dr. Michael Hanes.

Freshman Whitney Lee is hitting the books hard, to teach high school English, but right now she's more concerned about how state budget cuts will affect her HOPE scholarship than the next quiz. "If the HOPE scholarship goes away maybe I will get through my education with the HOPE, but I have a 14-year-old brother who will be going to college and putting the burden on my parents then."

"Of course and I am fearful of that too because every time we increase the tuition, we know that may actually cause some students to decide not to go to college."

Lots of students are deciding to go to college now, evidenced by Georgia Southwestern State University's strong enrollment. But, GSW is facing yet another round of budget cuts-- now topping $2.5 million to date.

"We have consolidated positions over the last three years, eliminated administrative positions and we are now to the point where we may have to reach down and eliminate some staff positions," said Hanes.

That means firing staff at the heart and soul of the school-- the teachers-- a move the school's president is reluctant to consider. But this college freshman thinks she has the answer. "I don't think this is the right place to be making budget cuts. Higher education of Georgia is the future of Georgia and I mean that is what will lead to the economic success of Georgia in the future and if they don't educate us now it will cause more and more problems down the road."

Problems that might not be as far down the road as we think. The State Board of Regents is considering a ten percent mid-year tuition increase.

posted at 5:25PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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