A Message from Dr. Peterson
April 19, 2011
To the campus community of Georgia Tech:
With the conclusion of the state legislative session and the monthly Board of Regents meeting occurring within the same week, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update on our current financial situation, as well as how some of the actions to date will impact the members of our community.
Prior to its adjournment last week, the Georgia General Assembly passed its proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget and sent it to the governor for his review and signature. At this point, the expectation is that Georgia Tech will receive another significant reduction in its state appropriation. In addition, the state formula funding — money allocated by the legislature to support growth of an institution's enrollment — has been frozen for the first time. All told, this represents an additional reduction in the funds available to the Institute of between $16 to $18 million.
To offer some perspective: over the past four years, Georgia Tech's state allocation has been reduced by almost $90 million, or approximately 31 percent, and the state contribution now accounts for less than 17 percent of our overall budget. While we have taken steps to mitigate the effect of these reductions, we are not able to absorb these cuts and still preserve the quality of our academic programs, and provide the educational experience consistent with other top-tier public research universities. With pay freezes already in place for three years, cuts to our state appropriation and increased efficiencies already implemented, it is necessary to seek other alternatives, including additional tuition and fees, to offset these reductions in state support for higher education.
Tuition and fees are directly responsible for the quality of the student education and experience. These include instructional and student-related activities; critical academic issues such as the student-faculty ratio, which has increased from 21 to 1 four years ago to 23 to 1 today; the availability of course sections for our undergraduates; and the operation of world-class academic and research facilities.
As some of you know, the HOPE Scholarship was the subject of intense debate during the recent legislative session. Due to rising student enrollment and tuition costs, Governor Nathan Deal and the General Assembly leaders recalibrated the merit-based program in order to preserve its financial health for future generations of Georgians. All of us applaud those efforts by the governor and the legislature. In another year of tough choices, preserving as much of the HOPE Scholarship program as possible was the right thing to do.
This week, the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents met to set tuition and fees for its member institutions, taking in to consideration the needs of our institutions, the declining direct state budget support and the overall economic condition of Georgia and the nation. In so doing, the Regents voted to approve a 3 percent tuition increase for resident students as well as an additional mandatory $350 special institutional fee per semester for Georgia Tech. With these funds we plan to hire additional faculty to accommodate our enrollment growth, continue financial aid relief for our neediest students and support our important academic initiatives, including funds to operate the new Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons.
Georgia Tech, like families throughout the state and nation, continues to face challenging economic times. Our first priority is to preserve the value of the degrees that we award to our students to ensure that we prepare them for an increasingly competitive and global job market. These increases represent an investment in the future of our institution, and I want to express my deepest appreciation to our faculty, staff, students and alumni as we work to ensure the quality of our educational and research programs and maintain our status as Georgia's premier public university.
G. P. "Bud" Peterson
President, Georgia Institute of Technology