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The Daily Tar Heel

Tuition May Fund Growth

Members of the UNC-system Board of Governors slashed from the system's proposed tuition policy Friday a key provision limiting tuition increases, claiming the removed stipulation was too restrictive.

The special BOG committee charged with reviewing board policy on tuition and fees had proposed an amendment to forbid members from raising tuition to meet enrollment growth needs.

The full board voted Friday not to increase tuition for the upcoming academic year, saying tuition is not an acceptable source for funding next year's enrollment growth.

The BOG Committee on Tuition and Fees, however, ultimately decided that its proposed provision limiting tuition increases was unacceptable.

"I think saying we will never raise tuition for enrollment growth is wrong because we don't know if we'll have to do that," committee member Jim Phillips said. "To take an absolute prohibitionary position is wrong, and history has shown we get in trouble when we do so."

Phillips said that to meet enrollment growth funding needs, the board found it necessary to increase tuition last year by 8 percent systemwide for in-state students and 12 percent for out-of-state students -- the largest systemwide tuition increase ever approved by the BOG.

When the board was considering the increase, several BOG members vowed that the board would not consider another large, systemwide tuition increase to fund enrollment growth.

But such a need might arise again should the N.C. General Assembly fail to provide funding for the increasing student population, Phillips said.

Committee member Gladys Robinson agreed with Phillips' assertion. "If, in fact, the General Assembly is not concerned, then we also are saying we are not responsible for acting in the best interest of students," she said, adding that meeting enrollment growth with tuition money is preferable to leaving it unmet.

Robinson also asserted that it will not be necessary to address the issue in the future if the General Assembly assumes the responsibility of funding enrollment growth, as the board has consistently said it should.

UNC-system President Molly Broad said she supports the committee's decision, saying diplomacy, not policy, is the best way to ensure that the state legislature meets the system's enrollment growth need without using tuition money.

"A lot of campuses and other state university systems see enrollment growth as the states' responsibility, akin to an entitlement," she said. "We will work very hard to that end until the goal is achieved.

"But I think to tie the hands of our board is not the best strategy to achieve what I think is an achievable and very laudable goal."

The full board will vote on the tuition and fee policy at its Feb. 14 meeting.

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

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