On Wednesday the UNC-system Board of Governors passed an 8 percent systemwide tuition increase for in-state students, a total of $186 for UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduates, and a 12 percent increase for out-of-state students, an increase of $1,478 for UNC-CH undergraduates.
The increases will fund about $40 million in enrollment growth and need-based financial aid, about half the amount that the UNC system needs for the 2002-03 academic year. But UNC-system officials said despite the approved tuition increase, they will continue to lobby the legislature for the $80 million needed for enrollment growth and need-based financial aid.
"If there is a way to fund enrollment with state dollars, the board would welcome that instead of tuition increases," said J.B. Milliken, UNC-system vice president for public affairs and university advancement.
And officials say such a way might exist. Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, D-Dare, and House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, suggested in a letter to UNC-system officials this week that enrollment growth be funded through the state's continuation budget.
System enrollment growth is currently funded through the state's expansion budget, unlike K-12 education, which is funded through the continuation budget.
The continuation budget ensures funding every year for programs. The expansion budget funds programs more likely to get cut when funding is scarce.
Jim Phillips, chairman of the BOG Public Affairs Committee, said board members plan to encourage the legislature to roll back the systemwide tuition increases if enrollment growth can be financed through the continuation budget.
If the legislature meets the system's enrollment needs, campus-based tuition and student fee increases would be unaffected. UNC students would see a combined tuition and fees increase of $363 instead of $549 for in-state students and $1,841 for out-of-state students.
But Phillips said it might be difficult for the legislature to find money to fund the potential increase in the continuation budget. "They have several choices," he said. "They can either raise revenue or reallocate money in the state government."
Andrew Payne, president of the UNC-system Association of Student Governments, said the ASG will support Basnight and Black's efforts. "The BOG feels it's the (General Assembly's) responsibility to fund enrollment," he said. "Universities should not be penalized for bringing more people in."
Payne said the ASG's biggest obstacle could be the scenario's timing. As the semester winds down, students have strict academic commitments that might keep them from fighting the tuition increases by lobbying the legislature.
He added that the ASG will talk to as many people in the General Assembly as possible to convince them to follow Basnight and Black's suggestion.
But Payne said he is worried that if the two legislators' suggestion falls through, students might end up paying even more than the BOG asked for. "I'm really concerned that the (General Assembly) won't make the hard decision and will put an even further burden on the students by increasing tuition even more."
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