UNC system implements tuition freeze for eight consecutive semesters
Pursuant to the new policy, tuition rates at all UNC institutions will be fixed for eight consecutive semesters for all resident bachelor’s degree seeking first-years. Student fee increases will also be capped at 3 percent per year, using current rates as a baseline.
“When you start college, you’ll know what your costs are going to be for all four years — and families take comfort in that kind of stability,” said Joe Knott, a member of the UNC Board of Governors.
N.C. Rep. Verla Insko, D.-Orange, said the state doesn’t need to charge students more money, but the new policy has met some criticism.
“By fixing the tuition at current rates, you can’t make college more affordable for our students and that limits the access certain groups of students have to the university,” she said.
According to a report released by the UNC system Sunday, students whose consecutive semesters of enrollment are interrupted because of military service, medical issues or disabilities are exempt from changes in their tuition rates, which will remain the same as at the time of interruption.
Student groups excluded from the policy include continuing education students, non-degree seeking students, second degree seeking students and high school students enrolled through a dual-degree program.
“The whole purpose of the policy is to ensure that all of our students have the opportunity to complete their degrees in an efficient, affordable and timely manner,” said Lou Bissette, chairperson of the Board of Governors.
Insko said another problem with the policy is it reduces revenue by precluding any additional spending, including spending by the state.
“Educational costs will continue to rise,” Insko said. “And when they do, there’s not going to be a corresponding increase in revenue to pay for it.”
Bissette said the bill should incentivize students to finish their degrees quickly, which will bring costs down.
“Students and families want that stability,” he said. “If you get a fixed rate by finishing in four years, most folks will finish in four years.”
Insko said she questions whether the quality of education will be maintained if spending decreases and students are pushed to complete their education quickly.
“Education is an investment,” she said. “Spending on education always decreases costs in the long run. It is the most crucial infrastructure of our society.”
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