The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 2nd

BOG: Tuition Plans OK, But Not Final

But board members emphasized that the BOG will have the final say on the proposal.

UNC-CH's Tuition Task Force, which met Thursday, is nearing a decision on a tuition increase plan despite the fact that the BOG Special Committee on Tuition and Fee Policies has yet to release its recommendation for campus action.

The special committee is charged with evaluating the BOG's tuition policies and is scheduled to report its findings at the board's Friday meeting.

Ben Ruffin, the former board chairman and creator of the task force, said he does not see UNC-CH's early action as problematic.

"I don't see a problem with it as long as students are involved," Ruffin said. "They are doing the right thing by talking about a difficult financial climate.

"With a student body as large as Chapel Hill's, you cannot wait (on discussion). It is the right thing to start looking at it."

BOG Chairman Brad Wilson echoed Ruffin's sentiment, saying, "It's time for those decisions to be being made.

"I think Chapel Hill is wise and prudent to go ahead and do their homework."

But all campus requests will be reviewed in light of the board's tuition task force report, Wilson said.

BOG Vice Chairwoman Teena Little also stressed that the BOG has the ultimate power to approve all campus-initiated tuition proposals, which are scheduled to come before the board during the spring semester.

"It is the decision of the board whether (a tuition proposal) is approved or not, then it goes before the legislature for final approval," Little said.

UNC-CH's task force discussed two potential campus-based tuition increase proposals -- both of which call for an annual $400 increase for three years. The task force plans to vote on a tuition plan Nov. 14.

While the first proposal would allocate 40 percent of the new tuition for financial aid and reduce the student-faculty ratio from 18.5-1 to 18.1-1, the second would set aside 25 percent for financial aid and would bring the student-faculty ratio to 17.4-1.

Little said student-faculty ratios and financial aid have been the aims of tuition increases in the past and are worthy requests.

"Most have done this," she said. "In the past, when campuses come to the board with requests, it has predominantly been requests for dollars to be put toward student-faculty ratios and for a portion to go to support. It doesn't seem out of line in light of past requests."

Little said that while the BOG tends to resist tuition increases, board members will review UNC-CH's proposal.

"We have said we don't like student tuition increases," she said. "I don't think board members and trustees wanted to increase student tuition last year. That was very evident -- everyone was hesitant."

Little and Ruffin both said they anticipate other system schools will follow UNC-CH's lead in proposing sizeable tuition increases.

"I'm sure other schools will (follow UNC-CH)," Ruffin said. "Even if you don't utilize (the proposals), you have them out on the table."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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