THE ISSUE: A 2005 state law allows UNC-system schools to count out-of-state students on full scholarship — athletes or merit scholars — as in-state students. This allows organizations that support these scholarships to pay the university in-state tuition for these students, a difference of $17,888 per student per year. Is this law fair?
Charging these particular out-of-state students as in-state ones is a sound investment that keeps the University competitive with its peer institutions.
Many have recently been upset by this subsidy because they are ultimately endowed with in-state status.
Yet the University is not even competitive with its peers in the amount of out-of-state talent it admits. While UNC-system rules cap out-of-state enrollment at 18 percent of the student body, that proportion is 28 percent at the University of Michigan and 33 percent at the University of Virginia.
These two academic rivals are doing a superior job of bringing in out-of-state talent to increase their prestige.
And making room for more out-of-state talent is only one benefit to the University’s in-state status.
Data submitted to the U.S. Department of Education through the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act show that UNC has about 750 athletes. Among them, there is a grand total of just less than $7 million in aid given. The out-of-state athletes on a partial scholarship, who are a part of this figure, are charged full out-of-state tuition.
So the athletes who receive the contentious full scholarships at in-state tuition rates are only a fraction of this figure.
And yet, for a less than $7 million investment, UNC athletics generates in return more than $61 million. Additionally, UNC apparel and memorabilia generates countless dollars in sales tax revenue that goes right back into the state’s general fund.
At the University of Connecticut, another prominent basketball school, student aid there is just less than $8 million for about 600 athletes. That school thus spends slightly more per athlete than we do. The result of their investment ends up being just less than $55 million in athletic revenues.
The difference between our two schools in revenue generated is practically the entire financial aid investment that we make in our athletes.
UNC has an international reputation in large part because of its incredibly popular and successful athletics program and its intelligent scholars and scholarship programs.
While removing the in-state tuition benefit for its full-scholarship students might not permanently set UNC back, it is certain that this relatively small investment is a beneficial boost to our institution’s competitive edge.
Let’s keep it that way.
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