Friday Facts: April 19, 2024

The federal student loan program is a mess. 

Administrative chaos, high delinquency rates, subsidies for low-quality institutions, and enormous fiscal costs are just some of the problems with federal student lending.

Many people, particularly those on the right, think the government should give up and let the private sector take over the responsibility for making student loans. Those arguments are gaining more currency as the problems with federal student loans reach something of a climax. Millions of borrowers missed their first payments in October, and new loan-relief plans threaten to drain the Treasury of hundreds of billions of dollars.

It’s time to start taking student loan privatization seriously. That’s the subject of a new report Preston Cooper at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity co authored with Beth Akers and Joe Pitts of the American Enterprise Institute. They explore the current state of the private student loan market, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of privatization and outline a policy agenda to make privatization work.

Check out this week’s commentary on how we can end federal student loans and improve higher education with student loan privatization. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • State energy regulators OK Georgia Power plan to boost generating capacity
  • Tuition and fees will rise at Georgia public universities in fall 2024
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International named world’s busiest airport once again
  • Port of Brunswick sets record month for autos

– Kyle Wingfield

Friday’s Freshest

We aren’t building enough houses. Why?

Between 1995 (the first year of the census data set) and 2006 (the last year before home building fell sharply due to the impending Great Recession) nearly 1.1 million new homes were built in Georgia. Between 2012 and 2023, only 625,000 were built. The question is why has this dropoff remained so stubborn, despite so many incentives in the market to build new homes? While there’s no single answer, one of the biggest culprits is government regulations.

Making public school open enrollment in Georgia more accessible

Open enrollment, an education policy that allows K-12 students to transfer from one public school to another, is gaining traction across the United States. Despite the growing popularity of open enrollment programs nationwide, a new report from the Foundation reveals that Georgia is not meeting its full potential in making these programs accessible to students. What can Georgia do better?

Comparing Cobb and Gwinnett County transit plans

Gwinnett and Cobb counties will ask their respective voters to approve a one-cent sales tax to expand public transit options this fall. The Foundation has previously released detailed information on the Cobb and Gwinnett plans. We now have a comparison between the two plans, including what is in each, what residents can expect and how much it will cost.

Georgia’s craft brewers and customers thirst for less restrictive laws

Georgia wants to use the craft brewing industry to attract more tourists and more economic development prospects. But some Georgia craft brewers say their line of work doesn’t live up to its fullest potential. So who or what do they believe holds them back? 

What is the Georgia Promise Scholarship?

The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act provides families with state-funded scholarships to be used toward an education of their choice. We provide helpful information on when the program will be available, who is eligible and how funds can be used. 

The Latest


Kemp touts budget wins, tax refunds, state pay raises 

At a Cobb Chamber event Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp took a victory lap of sorts on the recently wrapped legislative session and the state’s new budget. Touting another round of income tax refunds and pay raises for the state’s teachers, police officers and child welfare workers, Kemp, the event’s keynote speaker, once again called Georgia the best place to do business, mainly because of a thriving workforce.

State energy regulators OK Georgia Power plan to boost generating capacity

The state Public Service Commission approved a request by Georgia Power for a huge increase in electrical generating capacity that power utility executives said is needed to meet the growing demands of large industrial customers. The additional capacity will come from a variety of sources, including battery storage and other forms of renewable energy but also from boosting Georgia Power’s investment in fossil fuels.

Port of Brunswick sets record month for autos

The Port of Brunswick enjoyed its busiest month ever in March, the Georgia Ports Authority reported this week, as we begin the impact of a container ship knocking down the Francis Scott Key Bridge at the Port of Baltimore late last month. The Colonel’s Island Terminal at Brunswick handled 77,236 units of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo last month, including autos and heavy machinery, an increase of 21% over March of last year and a new record. 

State tax revenues drop by double digits

Georgia tax collections continued their downward slide last month, declining by 12.6% compared to March of last year, the state Department of Revenue reported Friday. Year-to-date tax receipts were more encouraging, with revenues down a slight 0.5% compared to the first nine months of the last fiscal year. However, that’s only because the state has resumed collecting taxes on gasoline and other motor fuels.


Tuition and fees will rise at Georgia public universities in fall 2024

Students will pay more to attend Georgia’s public universities and colleges in the 2024-2025 academic year, with officials saying schools face rising costs and must charge more to maintain a quality education. Regents voted this week to increase tuition and fees at the system’s 26 schools. The typical Georgia school will charge in-state undergraduates $6,466 in tuition and mandatory fees for two semesters next year, up 2.4% from $6,317 this year.

Valdosta State University wins inaugural Regents Cup Debate Series

The Valdosta State University debate team took home a unique, handcrafted wood trophy as the inaugural winner of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) Regents Cup Debate Series. In all, nine students from six USG institutions participated in the event, hosted on Middle Georgia State University’s Macon campus. 

The best (and worst) places for finding a job without a college degree

U.S. employers – both public and private – are increasingly ditching college degrees as a job requirement across an array of roles amid a nationwide shortage of workers, but the opportunities for good-paying jobs can vary greatly depending on where a candidate lives. And according to a new study, Georgia is among the best states to find a job without a college degree. 

DeKalb County School District considering expanding teacher residency program

In a bid to bolster teacher retention and combat a critical shortage of educators, the DeKalb County School District is on the cusp of expanding its Ignite Teacher Residency Program pending a crucial vote on Monday evening. The Ignite program, which launched in January, aims to cultivate a new generation of educators by offering intensive training and support. 

Government accountability

Ossoff blasts postal service chief over delays in mail delivery

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., grilled the head of the U.S. Postal Service this week about months-long delays in delivering mail processed at a new regional distribution center in Palmetto. Since the Atlanta Regional Processing and Distribution Center began operations earlier this year, only 36% of inbound mail is being delivered on time, Ossoff said during a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 

Athens considering several approaches to mitigate short-term rental issues

An Athens-Clarke County Commission committee is continuing to struggle with tweaking a recently passed amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance regulating short-term rental properties. At its Monday meeting, the Government Operations Committee instructed county staff to look at a number of options, including an outright ban on new short-term rental properties, at least in residential areas.

Tiny home project aimed at those once in foster care to go before Augusta Commission

A group hoping to build Augusta’s first tiny house community takes another step forward Tuesday when a rezoning request goes before the Augusta Commission. Bridge Builder Communities wants to build 25 tiny homes for young adults ages 18 to 25 who have aged out of the foster care system. 


Georgia transportation officials awarded $137M in projects in February

The Georgia Department of Transportation said it awarded 10 projects in February, down from the 14 projects the agency awarded in January. In an announcement, the agency said that nearly half of the projects announced (47%) were reconstruction projects. More than a third (39%) were bridge construction projects, while the remaining money went to safety (9%) and resurfacing (5%) projects.

Microtransit pilot program is coming to Norcross later this year

A pilot version of microtransit for the city of Norcross officially got the green light from county commissioners to proceed this week. The county is partnering with the city of Norcross and the Gateway85 Community Improvement District to establish the pilot program, which will begin Aug. 1 and last until July 31, 2025. The program is expected to cost $1.28 million, with the county and the CID each covering 44% of the cost and the city covering the remaining 12%.

SWGA Regional Airport launches master plan update for next 20 years of growth

The city of Albany has launched an Airport Master Plan Update for the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. The update plans to ensure continued safe and efficient service to users in the region. The master plan will assess current airport conditions, forecast future aviation activity to guide recommended facility upgrades, analyze development alternatives and outline development strategies for the next two decades.


Revamped Dixie Speedway looks to the future amid full season return

Dixie Speedway has remained a staple of Woodstock since the racetrack and facility first opened its doors in 1969. However, the roar of the engines traversing the three-eighths of a mile red clay dirt speedway has been noticeably absent on Saturday nights in recent years. That is, until this past Saturday. 

Hartsfield-Jackson airport named world’s busiest airport once again

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has once again clinched the title of the world’s busiest airport, according to the latest rankings released by Airport Council International. Hartsfield-Jackson has held the top position every year except 2020 for more than two decades. In 2023, ATL welcomed a staggering 104.7 million passengers, marking an impressive 11.7% increase from the previous year. 

Sayonara, Chevron

It’s time for the Supreme Court to jettison the doctrine known as Chevron deference, which forces federal courts to surrender their judicial function to the unaccountable bureau­crats of the administrative state. This past January, the high court heard arguments in two cases—Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relent­less Inc. v. Commerce Department—that present the opportunity to do just that. A decision in these cases is expected by June.

Quotes of the Week

“Israel is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago.” – Charles Krauthammer

“Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so.” – Dale Carnegie

“Prosperity is a great teacher; Adversity a greater.” – William Hazlitt

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