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Tuition rates to increase at public institutions
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O’Neil Whittington, center, and her mother, Tounya Whittington, talk Friday with financial aid assistant Amy Odom at the University of North Georgia financial aid office on the Gainesville campus. O’Neil Whittington is a general studies major from Hoschton. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Tuition rates are rising once again at public colleges and universities in Georgia, including the University of North Georgia.

“I guess it wouldn’t really affect me too, too much,” said Laura Zuniga, a sophomore nursing major at the Gainesville campus. She’s attending the university on a scholarship.

The 2.5 percent increase was approved by the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents meeting, held Tuesday and Wednesday at the University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus.

It’s the third time in as many years rates went up that much.

“I’m on (the) HOPE (scholarship),” said Jasmyne Roberts, a freshman business marketing major. “So that kind of helps me out a little bit in covering pretty much half of it.”

However, she said some of her family members who also attend the university have expressed concerns.

“I’ve heard them speaking about it, but not that much,” she added.

University of North Georgia Associate Director for Operations Susan Smith said there are many ongoing opportunities for college students to find financial aid, including loans and scholarships.

She encourages every student to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid at least once, to see if they’re eligible for any grants.

“They can file at any time,” Smith said. “The priority deadline has passed, but we still are continuing to process. We will be getting FAFSAs the entire school year. We just always accept them. 

“If we can’t get them processed before fee payments are due, then the student is responsible for their fee payments, but we try our best to get them done.”

For University of North Georgia students seeking a four-year degree, the new rate is $2,549 for 15 credit hours in a semester, or $169.93 per credit hour. 

That’s up from $2,487 for this year, a difference of $62.

And last year, it was $2,426 — a difference of $123 per semester over the two years.

Smith said the rate increase was expected, and students and their families are taking the changes in stride.

“I was actually expecting a higher increase, so this was not too bad,” she said, laughing. “Especially when you look at the ones for the two-year degree.”

Next year’s tuition rate for a two-year degree at the University of North Georgia is set at $1,495, up from $1,459 this current school year.

“You’ve really got lots of choices that you can make, depending on how your finances are,” Smith said. 

“I think maybe the reason (for the increase) is maybe because there are more students now,” Zuniga said. “I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s fair to put more stress on us than we already have.”

But overall, she said she believes her education is a good value for what she has paid, and will pay.

While all public college and university students are feeling the pain, some are more than others: Georgia Tech’s rates increased 9 percent, and the University of Georgia’s were raised 7 percent.