Just more than two months after the president of Georgia Highlands College announced that campuses would have to be closed and programs ended to the meet the Board of Regents’ request that the college cut $2.4 million from their coming year’s budget, Randy Pierce shared the news with his staff Wednesday that none of the cuts on that list will have to be made.

In fact, the college has created 26 new jobs, most of them at GHC’s newest locations, and officials do not expect furloughs to be required for the coming year.

“Clearly, everyone thought better about what higher education means to the future of Georgia,” Pierce said Wednesday morning during a press conference at the Rome campus. “Clearer heads prevailed.”

The Regents asked Georgia colleges to submit a list in February representing how the University System of Georgia could make cuts equal to almost $300 million for the coming year. Highlands’ share of the proposed cuts was $2.4 million, and the Douglas and Paulding campuses, as well as the dental hygiene and physical education programs, were on the chopping block.

Though the governor has yet to sign the budget, it appears Highlands will not have to cut any programs, close any campuses or lay off any employees.

“Obviously, lots of things have changed in the last few months,” said Pierce. “The big winners here are the students, because we didn’t haveto close the Douglas or Paulding sites and we didn’t have to cut any programs.”

The college will still be faced with a total cut of $2.1 million for fiscal year 2011, but a modest tuition increase and an extra $1.6 million from the state based on growth and strategic initiatives funding will soften the blow.

Tuition for two-year access schools such as Highlands will be increased $3 per credit hour, meaning a full-time student taking 15 credit hours would pay an extra $45 per semester. The average GHC student takes 10 hours per semester, meaning their increase would only be $30.

Earlier this year, college officials across the state feared a much higher increase would be handed down.

“That’s certainly good news because it’s not the double-digit increase everyone was talking about,” said Pierce.

Highlands also received approval for a new $100 Student Support Services fee that will help pay for a student center and academic building in Cartersville, as well as reburshing projects on other campuse. That fee, Pierce pointed out, was approved by the college’s Student Engagement Council.

The college president credit the governor and state legislators with understanding the value of higher education, but he also said the phone calls and rallies held by students and staff members in recent months certainly made a difference.

The amount of dollars per student Highlands has received from the state has steadily dropped for a year now. In 2001 the state funding per student was $6,200. For the coming year, the state will give the college $3,500 per student. In that time, the student population has increased from 2,860 in 2002 to 5,200 in 2009.

Pierce said the number of students has steadily grown by 10 to 12 percent every year for almost 10 years now, and he expects GHC’s fall enrollment to near to surpass 6,000, with the total reaching 10,000 by 2015. Because of this growth, the college’s overall budget has continued to increase, despite the decline in state dollars. The GHC budget for 2011 is set to be $26.3 million, $14.6 million of which comes from the state.