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In-state tuition likely won't budge

Schools could be limited to nonresident increases

Members of the UNC system’s governing body admitted Thursday that they simply will be going through the motions when receiving proposals for campus-initiated tuition increases.

And Jim Phillips, chairman of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, made it clear that any requests to raise in-state tuition likely will be struck down.

“It is my reading of the board that we are unlikely to approve them,” he said. “But if we’re going to consider them, it seems that we ought to truly look at them.”

While the board opposes tuition increases for in-state students, it left the door open for hikes in nonresident tuition.

Requests must be turned in to the system’s finance department by Jan. 31, and the Budget and Finance Committee will discuss the proposals at its February meeting in Wilmington.

The full Board of Governors is expected to vote on proposals in Chapel Hill on March 18.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees is expected to finalize its tuition increase proposal Jan. 26. Members are looking at three options, all of which increase both resident and nonresident tuition.

Phillips asked that campuses seeking approval for an increase have the appropriate personnel attend those meetings.

“I expect them to have done substantial work on why they need the money and what they’ve done to ensure access,” he said.

The committee’s sentiment is in line with that of BOG Chairman Brad Wilson, who spoke out last month against tuition increases for in-state students.

Wilson also alluded last month to the possibility of using tuition certainty as a model to provide stability to students entering the UNC system.

Under this plan, now used within the University of Illinois system, undergraduates pay the same tuition rate for all four years.

Phillips said Thursday that he is going to ask the finance department to bring in an Illinois representative to speak to the board about tuition certainty. “I expect they’ll tell us the good and the bad,” he said.

Former BOG Chairman Ben Ruffin said he doesn’t want the state legislature to receive any encouragement from the board to hike in-state tuition. “We need to be clear that we need the General Assembly to walk, arms locked, with us to generate revenue.

“It’s very important to have some sentiment from the board … so the schools don’t do an inordinate amount of work on some proposal with stipulations that justify to the General Assembly (the need for increases).”

During the meeting, the budget committee also reviewed a report that stated how UNC-system schools spent the total $112 million brought in by campus-based tuition increases and enrollment growth.

Jeff Davies, UNC-system vice president for finance, said the campuses used the revenue to address the board’s concerns, such as class size and faculty retention.

BOG members are expected to use the report as a guide during the next few months while discussing campus-initiated tuition increases.

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