Fri., February 11, 2011 4:01pm (EST)

Proposal Ties University Tuition Hikes to Inflation Rate
By Joshua Stewart
Updated: 3 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
The Arch at the University of Georgia. State Rep. Ed Rynders wants to tie state university tuition to the inflation rate and has filed a resolution to put the question to voters. His constitutional amendment would also require tuition hikes greater than inflation to be approved by the General Assembly. He said controlling the cost of tuition is key to saving the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program, which is running out of money. (Photo by Paul Efland, University of Georgia.)
The Arch at the University of Georgia. State Rep. Ed Rynders wants to tie state university tuition to the inflation rate and has filed a resolution to put the question to voters. His constitutional amendment would also require tuition hikes greater than inflation to be approved by the General Assembly. He said controlling the cost of tuition is key to saving the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program, which is running out of money. (Photo by Paul Efland, University of Georgia.)
A proposed constitutional amendment in the Georgia House would limit tuition increases at the state’s universities to the rate of inflation.

Any hike greater than the inflation rate would have to be approved by lawmakers, according to the resolution filed by Albany state Rep. Ed Rynders.

“I certainly don’t think we can talk about the HOPE scholarship and have meaningful dialog without including the cost of tuition and what that does to the lottery funds,” Rynders said. “I think that needs to be part of the discussion.”

The governor and legislators are looking at revisions to the popular scholarship program, which is funding through the state lottery. It pays the full cost of tuition for high-achieving Georgia students but is running out of money.

“I think there are a lot of good ideas out there. I’m just not so sure that, at the end of the day, those fixes are enough to get to the problem,” Rynders said. “The problem is that we’ve got tuition that keeps raising and raising and raising, and it squeezes those lottery funds. I hope that this resolution addresses some of that.”

Right now, the Board of Regents sets students’ tuition costs. For this academic year, costs rose between 4 and 16 percent, depending on the type of institution.

Chancellor Errol Davis warned lawmakers last month that proposed budget cuts of $185 million for next year could lead to more tuition increases.

Rynders said he already has 100 signatures on the legislation, 20 shy of the two-thirds vote he will need to pass it in the House.

The measure could have trouble in the Senate, where some leaders have indicated tuition is too low and should be allowed to rise.


Contributors: GPB’s Melissa Stiers contributed to this report.