Technical school board approves tuition, fees hike

Atlanta -- Students at Georgia Piedmont Technical College and other technical colleges around the state will have to pay more in tuition and fees next year.

The state board that oversees the Technical College System of Georgia approved last week the system's request for a tuition increase of $10 per credit hour starting next year.

"A tuition and fee increase was made necessary by the rising expenses to deliver our programs and lower state appropriations," TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson said.

TCSG students at the 25 TCSG colleges, including GPTC, will pay $85 per credit hour beginning in the spring 2013 semester. As a result, tuition for a full, 15-hour course load will cost $1,275 next semester, or $150 more than the current rate, according to the system.

Three-quarters of TCSG students use HOPE to help pay for their tuition, mostly in the form of the HOPE grant, which pays $60.75 per credit hour, according to TCSG. With the increase, students who enroll under the HOPE grant will pay $364 in out-of-pocket tuition for a full semester, up from the $214 that they currently spend.

The TCSG board also approved a new $50 institutional fee beginning in spring 2013 and a $50 fee for online courses starting in fall 2013. TCSG students will pay, on average, a total of $223 in fees starting in the spring.

Once the expense of books is added in, usually about $500, the total cost to attend a TCSG college full-time for a semester next year will be just under $2,000. The out-of-pocket cost for students who qualify for the HOPE grant will be about $1,086.

Some students can reduce the cost of their TCSG education if they qualify for the federal Pell grant, which is awarded based on financial need.Last year, more than half of the 170,000 students who enrolled at TCSG colleges used the Pell grant, according to the system.

"A state technical college education remains an excellent value compared to the cost, yet we fully understand the impact that any additional expense has on our students," Jackson said. "The colleges will do all that they can to provide sources of financial assistance to those who need it most. We're committed to seeing that all of our students get the opportunity they deserve to be a part of Georgia's 21st century workforce."

In 2012, the TCSG colleges delivered 2.7 million credit hours of instruction to 170,000 students. TCSG served 85,000 students online through the system's Georgia Virtual Technical Connection.

Last year, GPTC enrolled 8,061 students in diploma, degree and certificate classes. It is the 11th largest institution among the 25 TCSG facilities. Along with the main campus in Clarkston, the college has another campus in Covington, education centers in Conyers and Doraville, an adult education facility in Clarkston and a commercial truck driving training facility in Lithonia. GPTC also partners with the Rockdale County School System and the Newton County School System to deliver college-level programs to high school students at the Rockdale Career Academy and the Newton College and Career Academy.