Financial aid officials say they are preparing a plan to help students pay for a higher-than-expected tuition increase, but there might not be enough money for everyone.
UNC officials say final tuition bills will be mailed around Sept. 14, about two weeks after the state legislature approved a 9 percent across-the-board retroactive tuition increase.
In-state students will receive bills for about $47 in additional tuition. Out-of-state students will have to pay an extra $460 this semester. UNC officials have not set a deadline for when students will have to pay the bill.
The tuition increase is in addition to a $300 increase, primarily to fund faculty salaries, that the N.C. General Assembly approved last summer.
Shirley Ort, director of scholarships and student aid, said the financial aid office was caught off-guard by the amount of the increase.
Ort said financial aid awards for the 2001-02 year were based on the $300 hike and a 4 percent tuition increase recommended by the Board of Governors.
"At the time, we didn't anticipate the additional 5 percent increase," she said.
Ort said administrators might have a difficult time finding enough aid because none of the 9 percent increase is set aside specifically for financial assistance.
About 35 percent of the campus-initiated increase was for financial aid.
Ort said in-state students would be eligible for loans only due to the relatively low amount of their increase. She added that students would have to contact the financial aid office before their loans could be increased.
"But the loan (increases) are not guaranteed because some students have already maxed out their Stafford Loan."
The federal Stafford Loan program limits the amount a student can borrow each year based on a student's class.
Ort said University financial aid officials will meet today to examine how much money is still available in scholarship accounts. Leftover scholarship account funds usually are distributed to those students who applied late for aid.
She said any additional aid might be directed primarily to the out-of-state students who already qualify for need-based aid. "It shouldn't take a large amount of money," Ort said. "About 18 percent of each class are out-of-state students. Of all those, only about a third are eligible for need-based financial aid."
Ort said the financial aid office will try to notify students about their options and increased awards.
Other financial aid officers noted that legislators have allotted money for need-based aid, which could also be used to help offset the retroactive increase for in-state students.
Steven Brooks, executive director of the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority, which oversees scholarship programs for North Carolinians, said state legislators set aside about $8.9 million for needy N.C. students. "There's some extra money for need-based assistance, hopefully enough for returning students," Brooks said. "(The increase is) a large percentage. But it's not a huge increase in dollars (for in-state students)."
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