Georgia Cuts Grants for Public University Students
ATLANTA, GA. (CollegeToCareers.com) – In a sign that financial aid opportunities may well continue to dwindle for college students, Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he would reduce the state budget for tuition grants and state-funded scholarships – for students who attend public universities.
Students who attend private colleges and universities will meanwhile remain eligible for $30 million in grants.
The governor plans to reduce the average for HOPE Scholarships by 10 percent and eliminate $189 million in funds for the University of Georgia system. These scholarships have been available to public university students in Georgia since 1971.
Georgia’s taxpayers currently pay $6,300 in grants for public university students in the current fiscal year. The proposed reductions would take funds for public university students to allot $775 in small grants for students who decide to attend private universities, saving taxpayers more than eight times the cost per student.
Opposition leaders and budget analysts claim that $700 in grants will do little to persuade students to attend private colleges, whose costs are substantially higher in contrast to public universities.
For example, the average cost of attendance at private universities falls between $6,000 and $39,000 for most students. By contrast, students who attend the Georgia Military College pay $13,000 per year, and students in attendance at public colleges elsewhere pay even less – $2,600, according to The Florida Times Union.
State auditors also cited surveys as their sources to reference a growing disparity for college students with affordability and access issues, reporting that students in attendance at public universities experienced more difficulty in paying for college while students who attended private universities often came from affluent families.
These reports would suggest that the governor’s reduced budget proposal for public university grants could make it more difficult for struggling students.
The governor argues that an increased number of students in attendance at private universities – even fewer than 4,000 – would help the state break even.
Even if the budget rights itself, students who choose to attend public university would lose enormously, says Kelly McCutcheon, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
“Our policy should focus on enhancing our students’ opportunity to receive a high- quality education, not on who owns the buildings,” said McCutcheon. “Georgia has some of the best private colleges in the nation. A student-focused policy would not reduce access to these schools.”