On Sept. 6, the Technical College System of Georgia’s board approved a $10 per credit hour tuition increase for 2013, raising costs to $85 per credit hour from $75.
The school has eight campuses, including two campuses in Cherokee County, one in Canton and one in Woodstock.
Since 2008, students taking an average of nine credit hours per semester have seen costs increase by about $280.
“Like everyone else, the Great Recession has had a profound impact on our operating budget,” said Mike Light, the technical system’s spokesman. “However, even when the budget cuts hit the TCSG hard, the system and its colleges have done everything possible not to pass the full impact along to the students.”
Light said the system is taking a 3 percent cut, which is equivalent to about $9.9 million from their overall budget, of which $8.9 million is being cut from the colleges themselves.
In the last four years, the department has taken a number of measures to mitigate the impact on the students, including merging colleges and reducing administration, Light said. Since 2009, they’ve combined 15 colleges into seven, going from a total of 33 colleges to 25.
Chattahoochee Tech is a merger of the original Chattahoochee Tech, North Metro Tech and Appalachian Tech.
The tuition increase isn’t the only additional cost technical college students will see. The board also approved a new $50 institutional fee and a $50 fee for students taking online courses next fall.
Light said the instructional fee would help the system cover the cost of the “delivery of instruction for the programs.”
These additional costs were not a surprise to Nelson and Chattahoochee Tech staff.
“We knew it was being talked about,” she said. “The colleges aren’t getting as much funding from the state, so in order to make sure that we keep providing the quality programs and services, it’s just the necessary evil of doing business.”
So far they haven’t had any complaints or concerns addressed by students, but it’s something Nelson anticipates.
“We hate it for our students, and we understand that it’s going to be tough for them,” she said. “Some may have to sit out a semester.”
About 11,500 students have enrolled across all eight campuses for the fall semester, and a large portion of their students take online classes, Nelson said.
Light said that since 2008, enrollment on all campuses has dropped from 195,366 to 170,806, but it cannot be “wholly attributed” to the tuition increase.
“Our colleges are doing everything that they can to assist students who may be most affected by the latest tuition increase,” he said. “The HOPE grant will still pay $60.75 per credit hour for those who qualify. The federal Pell grant will also cover a large portion of the costs. The colleges also utilize their foundations for scholarships and other forms of assistance.”