ATLANTA -- Students attending any of Georgia's 25 technical colleges will see a 13 percent tuition increase and a new mandatory fee for the spring semester that begins in January, resulting in more out-of-pocket costs not covered by HOPE grants.
The board that runs the system voted Thursday to increase tuition to $85 per credit hour, up from $75. That means a tuition bill of $1,275 for a full 15-hour course load. It was previously $1,125.
The board also added a new $50 "institutional fee" per semester for the spring semester and a $50 fee for each online course starting in fall 2013. According to the system, students will pay an average of $223 in fees starting in the spring.
The moves will push the average total cost of attendance, including books, to about $2,000 a semester. That's more than double what qualifying students can receive from HOPE. The state award, funded by Georgia Lottery proceeds, pay $60.75 per credit hour.
About 75 percent of the system's 170,000 students receive the HOPE grants. That proportion could fluctuate given changes that lawmakers approved in 2011 that now require recipients to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
Before the change, HOPE grant recipients had no minimum GPA requirement, unlike recipients of the higher-profile HOPE scholarship program for students at four-year colleges and universities. Lawmakers said the new requirements, along with a higher GPA minimum for the four-year awards and reductions in the dollar value of the awards were necessary to reduce the overall program cost.
Since its inception, HOPE grants have paid out about $1.5 billion to almost 800,000 technical college students.
According to the system, about half of its students receive federal Pell grants.
The system board has raised tuition consistently for at least a decade, though Georgia closely tracks the regional and national median for public technical colleges.
(Bill Barrow | Associated Press)