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OTC students to see 16 percent tuition increase starting 2008

    The state board that oversees the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Thursday approved a $385.7 million budget that includes a $5 per credit hour increase in student tuition.  The board’s approval came during its monthly meeting, which was held at Coosa Valley Technical College in Rome. Ogeechee Technical College is part of the system.
    Georgia’s technical college tuition has been and will continue to be one of the lowest among the southern states.  The new increase, the first in two years, will raise the annual cost from $1,428 to $1,728 for a full-time student.    
    Carl Swearingen, the chairman of the TCSG state board, noted that the majority of students should see little extra out-of-pocket expense and that there’s reward in the long-term. “A full-time Georgia technical college student will pay 16 percent more beginning in 2008, yet most students will find that the extra tuition will be covered by their HOPE and Pell grants,” said Swearingen. “We’re keeping our tuition affordable and our education valuable, especially given that our technical college graduates are in high demand and many enter the workforce making $40,000 a year or more,” said Swearingen.
    The 33 colleges that make up the TCSG enrolled 147,852 students in 2006. More than 80% of those students received financial aid, mostly in the form of state HOPE and federal Pell grants.
    A quality education from a Georgia technical college remains a relative bargain. According to data from the Southern Regional Education Board, Georgia’s technical college tuition was the second-lowest among its 16 member states in 2006. The additional $5 per credit hour should do little to change that ranking.
    TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson said that the board’s decision to raise tuition was necessary given the rising education costs associated with maintaining the technical edge that’s critical to keeping Georgia competitive in the global marketplace.  
    “It’s increasingly more expensive to educate and train in strategic industries like healthcare, aerospace and life sciences,” said Jackson. “It’s essential that we keep pace because a highly-educated and technically-skilled workforce is the heart and soul of Georgia’s economic future.”
    Dr. Dawn Cartee, president of Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, expects the impact of the extra tuition dollars to be positive because of the extra funding it will afford the college.
    “We want to assure our students that the additional funds generated by the tuition increase will only serve to improve the quality of education that we are capable of providing," she said.. "Budgetary issues always present a challenge, albeit a manageable challenge, and these additional funds will permit our college to be more responsive to the needs of our students and our service area when it comes to providing educational opportunities and services. In fact, we have had a number of faculty positions on hold for quite some time due to budgetary constraints.This increase in tuition will allow us to fill those positions which we have previously been forced to hold open."  
    Cartee went on to say, “We sincerely hope the impact of this tuition increase will be negligible for our students—this does, however, make supporting our Foundation with scholarship dollars even more important to allow greater assistance for those students who do have financial difficulty.  We want to continue being a leading technical college in a premier technical college system, and these additional funds will allow us to more easily do that.”
    Ogeechee Tech is part of the Technical College System of Georgia and is governed by the State Board of Technical and Adult Education.

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