According to the state’s Complete College Georgia initiative, there will be an 18 percent gap between the number of Georgians who will have college degrees and what the state’s workforce will need in 2020.
In response, the state fully funded the University System of Georgia’s enrollment formula, which will generate $72.5 million in new funds for the upcoming year.
Through the funding boost, North Georgia College & State University will receive about $1.3 million in new money and Gainesville State College will be allocated just more than $660,000.
The new funding comes from a formula established in the 1980s to help public universities keep up with growth.
According to Martha Nesbitt, Gainesville State’s president, state institutions did not receive the money last year — the first time in more than two decades.
She said new money, like the $72.5 million, is common to match enrollment growth.
“This is not unusual,” said Nesbitt. “What was unusual is that last year we got no new money and (the university system was) serving thousands more students than we had two years previous.”
This year, schools took a 2 percent cut from the funding they received last year, but institutional leaders were able to sit in on the system’s budget hearings and lobby for additional money.
“It was particularly troublesome when we’re growing as we had grown the year before — about 9 percent,” said Bonita Jacobs, North Georgia’s president. “So you get a lot of new students, but you don’t receive additional funding for it. It means you have to learn to do without some things. So we are very excited about being able to get some funding to be sure we accommodate our students as we continue to provide strong academic support, both in classroom and out of classroom.”
The money the two schools received will establish new faculty and staff positions.
North Georgia plans to fund 12 full-time faculty positions, along with 10 staff positions.
“One of the largest-ticket items for a university, as you might expect, is funding faculty salaries,” said Jacobs. “When you get more students and you don’t have enough money, what you do is stretch your faculty limits a bit ... (it) takes them away from some of that mentoring that they’re so good at outside of the classroom.”
Gainesville will fund 17 new faculty and staff positions, along with putting $50,000 into its supplemental instruction program.
The program identifies classes with a high withdrawal and failure rate and assigns peers to help students through out-of-class review sessions.
“This will give us a chance to really expand the program and add more courses so hopefully our students will do better academically,” said Nesbitt.
The $72.5 million was split between the state’s 35 institutions, serving almost 320,000 students.
The University of Georgia will receive $7.8 million, Georgia Tech will get $7 million and Georgia State $8 million.