When Alleluia Community School senior Heather Kent began applying to colleges last year, her first concern was about money.
She searched the Web site of her first choice, Georgia Regents University, for tuition information, found none, but applied anyway.
Even though she received her acceptance letter last month and has decided to attend, she won’t find out how much she’ll be paying until perhaps as late as May.
“When I looked up (tuition) at first, I couldn’t find it, so I was really confused,” said Kent, 18. “Still not knowing kind of bugs me.”
Applications to GRU from incoming freshmen are continuing to flow, despite the fact the University System of Georgia has not set the base tuition rate for students entering in fall 2013. Existing students will be grandfathered in to the base tuition they paid in fall 2012, but incoming freshman and transfer students in non-health science degrees and the bachelor of nursing program will pay a yet-to-be determined new tuition.
Carol Rychly, GRU vice president for academic and faculty affairs, said the USG Board of Regents is expected to announce the base tuition at either its April or May meeting.
GRU plans to gradually increase its tuition for incoming freshman every year. However, each class will be locked into their entering rate for four years.
“We are very sensitive to trying to keep the tuition as low as possible and to ramp it up very, very slowly and to have this hold harmless so when students enter as freshmen they know and can plan ahead,” Rychly said. “The best way to make college affordable is to take a load and a program that will allow you to graduate as soon as possible. That means at least a 15-hour load (per semester), which is what it takes to graduate in four years.”
Tuition for students entering a health
sciences related program will not see a rate increase because they are not considered to be incoming freshman, said Vice Provost Roman Cibirka.
Students in all degree programs, however, will likely see an across-the-board increase to whatever rate their base tuition is set. The University System is expected to announce its recommendation for tuition increases at its meeting in April.
Last year, the board enacted a 2.5 percent increase per student at most schools, which was the smallest tuition hike in a decade.
Although GRU is aiming to mature into an R1 research university, on par with the top in the state, Cibirka said the tuition is one aspect that will not compare with the other top institutions.
“We will not raise our tuition rates up to an R1 university,” Cibirka said. “That would be unrealistic to achieving the mission of both the former institution and the new institution going forward.”
Despite the tuition unknowns, several Richmond County high school guidance counselors said graduating seniors have not shied away from applying to GRU.
Westside High School senior guidance counselor Regina Thompson said she has about 20 students that have applied and still consider the school to be more affordable from out-of-state institutions. While attending GRU, students will be able to live at home and not spend money on room and board, which makes the local choice more affordable than other in-state schools where they’d have to spend money on dormitories.
“Nobody has really been concerned with the tuition part because they’re thinking it will be around the same or a little bit more but nothing extreme,” Thompson said. “Even if it’s a little more, it’s still more affordable versus if they were to go away.”
Thompson said students’ main concerns are around the more stringent admissions requirements enacted this year after consolidation between Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities.
The minimum freshman index, a calculation of GPA and either SAT or ACT scores, increased from 1950 at the former ASU to 2040 at GRU for fall 2013. The minimum index will be raised 100 points every year until it reaches the 2500 required for research universities, according to media relations director Christen Carter.