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College students dont welcome fee hikes
Regents decision aimed to offset state budget cuts
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Gainesville State College student Eric Gonzales will have to work another day at the college’s technology help desk to pay his $50 student fee increase next semester.

The state Board of Regents voted Tuesday to double special fees enacted last year when the state began withholding money from departments and agencies. In January, students will pay between $50 and $100 more than they did this semester, depending on where they go to school.

"It seems like a low amount when you look at the $1,235 a semester (in tuition). ... But in these times, $50 is a lot of money," Gonzales said.

The computer science student said he did not know about the fee increase until other upset students told him.

Gainesville State students will now pay $100 in special fees each semester. North Georgia College & State University students will pay $150 each semester. At research universities like the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, students will pay $200 per semester.

"As students, we try to do our best in school and we do our best to manage school and our jobs," Gonzales said. "What’s next? If we keep getting these $50 fees, it adds up."

The state’s 35 colleges and universities may have to turn to more unpaid furlough days and layoffs to make up the $163 million in cuts from the state this fiscal year.

Regents spokesman John Millsaps says the fee will raise about $24 million. The fee hike, along with faculty furloughs, will help offset an 8 percent state cut for University System of Georgia institutions, Gainesville State Vice President of Business Paul Glaser said.

"The revenue generated will help prevent layoffs and other cuts that would have an impact on classes and student services," NGCSU spokeswoman Kate Maine said.

Glaser said the state is withholding 8 percent of allocations for university system schools this fiscal year, which began July 1. Staff and faculty are taking six furlough days to offset the cuts.

Glaser said Gainesville State also has consolidated its services, deferred maintenance and repairs, reduced library acquisitions and technology purchases and has delayed program expansions. He said the cuts have stymied the college’s plan to offer more four-year degrees.

As January and the beginning of the legislative session draws near, educators anticipate more cuts.

"I think if we had a reduction of 12 percent last year, why would we think we wouldn’t have a similar reduction this year? I don’t think 8 percent is where we’re going to land," Glaser said. "We’ll wait and see. And we’ll do whatever we are asked to do, as we usually do."

He said, however, that the next tier of cuts could come as a Board of Regents mandate that will leave institutions with less control over how the cuts are distributed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.