As students at UNC, we often take for granted how incredibly lucky we are. We’ve had the privilege of attending a university that prides itself on inclusivity, affordability and excellence.
UNC is one of only two public universities in the whole country that meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need, and we do it while maintaining a high standard of academic excellence. Our strong financial aid program is the foundation of this proudly public institution. Recent events make me concerned this foundation could be in jeopardy.
To provide some context, in the face of declining state appropriations and rising tuition costs, UNC has been able to sustain its financial aid model by using a percentage of revenue from tuition increases to fund student aid. This process started during the 2000-01 academic year, and it’s the reason that we’ve been able to remain truly accessible.
Currently, UNC uses 38 percent of the revenue from the last tuition increase for need-based financial aid to support the 43 percent of our undergraduate student population on need-based financial aid. Right now, the UNC-system Board of Governors, which governs the state-wide university system, is discussing a 25 percent cap on tuition revenue for aid.
For our university, a cap would pose a significant and long-term structural problem in sustaining UNC’s financial aid program, one that would be too large for private giving or state appropriations to overcome.