April 17, 2013

DSC students face tuition, fees hikes

Rachel Brown

— Dalton State College sophomore Montana Gray doesn’t think next school year’s tuition and fees increases will drastically impact him, but he knows the costs could be a problem for some students.

“I just pay about $600 a semester after the HOPE scholarship,” the Chatsworth resident said. “It doesn’t really affect me that much, but as for other students, I can see where it would probably be an issue.”

The Board of Regents governing Georgia colleges approved several budget items Tuesday, including a tuition schedule that will have in-state Dalton State students paying an additional $36 per semester for terms that begin after July 1.

In-state tuition will rise from $1,423 per semester to $1,459. Out-of-state tuition will rise from $5,257 to $5,388. The increase is part of an overall budget plan the board approved. Individual colleges’ increases ranged from $32 and $270 per semester.

Dalton State spokeswoman Pam Partain said fees at Dalton State will increase from $443 per semester to $496. The athletics fee is rising from $50 to $83 as the college works to build its athletics program, and a newly mandated recreation fee of $20 will be added.

Dalton State senior marketing major Hilary Wallin said she was among a majority of members on the Student Advisory Council who approved the fee increases earlier this academic year. The fee increases, she said, will allow students to enjoy more on-campus events and activities.

“I voted in favor because ... I just feel like at the same time that it’s also for the good of our school so we can improve Dalton State,” she said, noting she paid for her schooling herself until recently. “A lot of students, they’re obviously just mad because of the fee increase and I understand that. I just recently started getting financial help with financial aid and everything.”

The fee increases had to be student-approved before the Board of Regents would consider them.

The regents approved the tuition increases despite receiving an additional $54.6 million in funding from the Legislature for the next school year. Chancellor Hank M. Huckaby said the University System is still struggling to keep up with soaring enrollment, higher health care premiums for employees and other costs after absorbing $1.4 billion in budget cuts in the past five years.

Partain said the state funding allocation for Dalton State is about $14 million, and the rest of the budget will be covered by student fees and tuition.

“We don’t have our total budget figured yet,” Partain said.

The Board of Regents also approved a capital budget that includes $4.6 million to renovate the campus technical building and for other academic purposes as well as $2.1 million to furnish and equipment a science building under construction. Those items are awaiting the governor’s signature before they are official.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.