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Monday, February 28, 2011 - 8:00am

Rynders: Limiting Tuition Hikes Important for HOPE

Updated: 3 years ago.
The Arch at the University of Georgia. Albany Representative Ed Rynders introduced a proposed constitutional amendment late last week to limit tuition increases at Georgia universities to the rate of inflation. He said it will help keep college affordable, especially for students who could lose some of their HOPE scholarship under a proposed restructuring. (Photo by Paul Efland, University of Georgia.)

The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment to tie state university tuition to inflation hopes it will give students more confidence about the cost of their classes, especially in light of potential cuts to the HOPE Scholarship.

Albany Representative Ed Rynders’ measure (HR 383) was introduced late last week. It would limit tuition increases at Georgia universities to the rate of inflation. Anything more would require approval of the General Assembly.

Rynders said his plan is not necessarily tied to the governor’s restructuring of the HOPE program, but that it’s part of the puzzle of the scholarship’s future and would help students plan for their college costs.

“I think when we’re talking about HOPE, at the end of the day, if two-thirds of [students] lost it, we need to be able to make sure that they can afford to go to college,” Rynders said.

“They’ll be at least able to count on exactly how much [tuition] is going to cost them. They’ll be able to plan for their future,” he said.

A plan announced last week would cut HOPE funding back to 90 percent of the cost of tuition for most recipients. Students with a 3.7 GPA or better in high school would still get full funding. Rynders said it’s important for the other 10 percent students would pay to be more predictable.

Rynders needs 120 votes in the House to pass the measure, and he is optimistic he’ll get them. He said he has more than 100 signatures on the resolution already.

But the proposal could face more trouble in the Senate, where leaders have said Georgia tuition is too cheap – about two-thirds the national average – and should be allowed to rise.

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Melissa Stiers contributed to this report.

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