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UNC Tuition Less Than Peer Schools'

When the 9 percent across-the-board tuition increase goes into effect, out-of-state undergraduate tuition will be $13,226.

But that figure is still $2,000 less than tuition levels at the other four schools that typically rank in the nation's top five public universities.

UNC-CH's peer schools in California -- University of California-Los Angeles and University of California-Berkeley -- both have out-of-state tuitions of slightly more than $15,000.

University of Virginia's tuition will be more than $18,000 this year, while University of Michigan-Ann Arbor has an out-of-state tuition of just more than $20,000, making it one of the most expensive public universities in the nation.

While UNC-CH's tuition might still be below that of its peer institutions, UNC-CH's tuition level for out-of-state students will be among the top 20 at a state flagship university and second highest in the South -- behind only UVa.

But some University officials said while UNC-CH's tuition might be relatively low, the school might be losing some of its luster as a "best buy" education.

"It is true that the idea of a combination of quality and value is what many students find appealing about UNC(-CH)," said Jerome Lucido, UNC-CH director of undergraduate admissions.

Lucido added that while he doesn't think a 9 percent tuition increase will hinder UNC-CH's ability to recruit out-of-state students, he worries that if out-of-state tuition continues to increase, the University could lose some of its appeal.

"I don't know if we are on the verge of pricing ourselves out of the market," Lucido said. "But I don't suggest we should try to find out where that point is."

Lucido did say the 9 percent increase could hurt the level of diversity in the student body. "We try to craft a class of interesting people of diverse backgrounds," he said. "If (UNC-CH) becomes unaffordable to needy students then we will lose some of our diversity."

Lucido said as University tuition continues to increase, it is important for University officials to make prospective students aware of financial aid programs.

UNC-system spokeswoman Joni Worthington said system officials have argued that tuition at many UNC-system campuses is already more than the national average. But Wednesday night, just minutes after the legislature approved the tuition increase, Sen. Howard Lee, D-Orange, said UNC-CH will always be able to attract out-of-state students. "UNC is so popular that all the seats will always be filled."

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