The sky is the limit

Additional contributors: Chris Shattuck and Nora Donnelly

Aysha Johnson | The Signal

Georgia State’s student athletic fees will not rise this year, but they remain the second highest in the state and among the highest in the university’s new conference, the Sun Belt.

At $263 per full-time student, the athletic fee at Georgia State makes up nearly a quarter of all non-tuition payments to the university– the highest of all fees payable to the school.

In fact, without any more rises, the average student can expect to pay more than $2,100 in just athletic fees over a four-year period – $15 less than Savannah State University, which has the highest athletic fees in the state, but hundreds less than every other research university, including the Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Georgia.

Since the creation of the school’s football program, donations and ticket sales have funded some of these costs, but football still receives a lion’s share of the money from fees, drawing more than $4.3 million last year.

In fact, football is the number one reason for the across-the-board athletic fee hikes over the past three years with an initial $85 fee increase in 2010 to pay for the creation of the program with an additional $12 fee increase in 2011.

“The driving force behind recent athletic fee increases has been starting football,” said Douglas Covey, vice president for student affairs.

Besides the outright costs of football, Covey credits additional administrative costs, the creation of the school’s marching band and Title IX women’s scholarship increases as primary reasons for the past athletic fee hikes.

And with the Georgia State’s transition from the Colonial Athletic Conference to the larger Sun Belt Conference, an NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision, the school is staring down millions more in expected costs, though Georgia State President Mark Becker has
sworn off additional fee increases in the near future.

Despite the relatively high cost, university officials defend the high athletic fee as comparable to other young and developing institutions across the country.

“The student athletic fees are an essential component of our athletics funding model, as is common throughout college athletics,” said Marvin Lewis, senior associate director of athletics for finance & administration said. “Georgia State’s fees are comparable to other
institutions in our conference and other similar institutions across the country.”