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University System of Georgia scales back fixed tuition program
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The Georgia Board of Regents has halted its fixed tuition program for this fall’s freshmen to raise more money in the face of the state’s worst fiscal crisis in decades.

The board voted Tuesday to suspend the program indefinitely and approved other tuition changes aimed at generating $60 million in revenue. Under the board’s plan, students already enrolled under the "fixed for four" program will not see any changes.

However, the board has raised from 12 to 15 the number of credit hours required for full-time students under the guaranteed tuition plan.

Incoming freshmen will pay the same rate that this year’s freshmen are paying, but their tuition will increase every year.

At Gainesville State College, freshmen will pay $84 per credit hour, while first year students at North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega will pay $130 per credit hour.

Many of the students receive the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which will pay for tuition increases for students in the program. Kate Maine, a spokeswoman for North Georgia, said 2,274 of the colleges 4,558 undergraduate students, or 50 percent, receive support from HOPE.

"We will honor the commitments that already have been made to those students in the guaranteed tuition plan and freeze the per credit hour tuition rate for new students," said Erroll B. Davis Jr., chancellor of the university system.

"We want to do as much as feasible to help our students in tough times this year, provide our institutions with budget flexibility in future years and help us address our reduced budget picture for fiscal year 2010," Davis said.

A new tuition program will go into effect at Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. Students who take six hours or less will pay a flat tuition of $1,800 per semester, and students taking in excess of six hours will pay a flat 15-hour tuition rate of $3,035. Students at these two institutions who are on the guarantee will not be affected by this change.

The regents’ actions on tuition took place on the same day the board approved of a fiscal year 2010 budget of $2.17 billion, which includes federal stimulus funds of $92.6 million.

State funding for the university system is being cut $238 million this year and $275 million next year. That’s about 10 percent of the state funding allotted for Georgia’s 35 colleges and universities.

The budget also includes $31.2 million for construction of a new academic building at Gainesville State College and $16.5 million for renovating a number of buildings on the North Georgia campus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.