Tuition Not Fixed for Graduate Students; "Fixed for Four" Applies Only to Undergraduates to Keep the Program Predictable

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ATLANTA -- When officials with the University System of Georgia announced the "Fixed for Four" tuition program earlier this year, among those excluded from the policy were graduate students.

Under the proposal, also called the Guaranteed Tuition Plan, undergraduate students beginning this fall will pay the same rate for four years at research universities, four-year schools and three years at the university system's two-year institutions.

The idea, system officials say, was to bring more predictability to the program and encourage undergraduates to work their way through college on schedule. That's part of the reason it wasn't extended to graduate students, said John Millsaps, spokesman for the university system.

"The guaranteed tuition program is for a four-year period," he said. "It's not designed for a graduate student to begin with."

However, the guaranteed program did leave some unresolved questions about tuition for graduate students. Generally, the basic tuition rate for graduate students was the undergraduate tuition rate plus 20 percent. When undergraduate tuition rates went up, the graduate costs would move at roughly the same rate, though some programs could ask for special increases or add-ons.

This year, for example, undergraduate tuition for students who entered before this fall -- and aren't subject to the Fixed for Four plan -- rose about 5 percent. Graduate rates also nudged up about 5 percent.

That coordination became more difficult to do, Millsaps said, when the guaranteed plans were passed. …


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