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Georgia officials approve tuition increases at state schools
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ATLANTA (AP) — Students at Georgia's public colleges and universities will see tuition increases this fall, after university system officials Tuesday backed increases including a 9 percent per semester boost at Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

The majority of state-operated schools will see a 2.5 percent increase for the fourth year in a row. Statewide, university system officials have approved tuition increases each year since at least 2002.

Students at the state's research universities again will see the highest increases — costing in-state students $405 more at Georgia Tech for a total of $4,906 and $387 more at the University of Georgia for a total of $4,682 each semester.

Georgia State University tuition will rise to $4,279 per semester. That's a 5.5 percent increase, identical to the rate approved for Georgia Regents University, with varying costs depending on when a student began courses.

This year, the system also proposed increases beyond the standard 2.5 percent for recently consolidated schools and those with growing enrollment or changing classifications. Kennesaw State University students will see a 4.4 percent increase, compensating for a merger with Southern Polytechnic State University completed earlier this year, while Middle Georgia State College will increase tuition 9 percent as it becomes a university. In 2014, students at those schools experienced only a 2.5 percent increase.

Chancellor Hank Huckaby said the tuition increases are necessary to maintain overall quality at each college or university.

"To ensure we can continue to offer quality public higher education, we must continue to invest in our institutions," Huckaby said. "We have carefully assessed the tuition rates for our institutions to make sure we are balancing the increasing costs of providing public higher education while keeping tuition and fees as affordable as possible."

Georgia this year included 3 percent increases to the merit-based HOPE Scholarship program in the state's budget for fiscal year 2016, beginning July 1.