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Tuition increases to affect Northeast Georgia students
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Justin Ellenburg, a sophomore biology major, and Rachel Hall, a sophomore psychology major, study in the student center at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus Wednesday. Tuition for students will increase next year. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Despite the average Georgia college graduate’s $24,517 in student-loan debt, tuition at state colleges and universities is going up in the fall.

While the majority of tuition increases at state schools will only be 2.5 percent, students enrolled at Northeast Georgia universities, including the University of Georgia and the University of North Georgia, will see higher increases.

The University of Georgia has one of the highest tuition increases, with a 9 percent increase raising tuition for in-state, full-time students to $4,682 per semester.

At UNG, a 5 percent increase was approved by the University System of Georgia, raising tuition to $2,676 a semester for full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Students pursuing an associate degree at the university will have a 2.5 percent tuition increase.

Abby Schafer, sophomore at the UNG Gainesville campus, said she thinks students on her campus could be hurt by the tuition increase more than students at most colleges and universities across the state.

“I think this will affect students here maybe even more than other colleges,” Schafer said. “Especially on this campus, there are a lot of adult learners that don’t have the same opportunities provided to them that all the young people do. They can get loans all day long, but they don’t have the scholarship opportunities we get coming out of high school.”

Fellow UNG Gainesville student Jon Simon agreed.

“I think 5 percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up,” Simon said. “For a student who maybe already had to take out a loan or was already depending on a scholarship, this could be more of a burden.”

According to a news release from the University System of Georgia, the increase at UNG was needed to address critical staffing needs and recruit and retain faculty across its campuses, including those in Gainesville and Dahlonega.

The state also added a 3 percent increase to the merit-based HOPE Scholarship Program for the next fiscal year.

Chancellor Hank Huckaby previously said the tuition increases are necessary to maintain overall quality at each college or university.

“To ensure we can continue to offer quality public higher education, we must continue to invest in our institutions,” Huckaby said. “We have carefully assessed the tuition rates for our institutions to make sure we are balancing the increasing costs of providing public higher education while keeping tuition and fees as affordable as possible.”

Simon said he hopes the increases won’t keep students from their education.

“I just hope, because I know some colleges had bigger increases than (UNG) did, I just hope this doesn’t prevent anyone from getting their education,” he said. “You never know.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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