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The Daily Tar Heel

Bowling a strike

System president right to call for partial refund of fee

UNC-system President Erskine Bowles deserves credit for standing up for system schools by pressuring the N.C. General Assembly to divert at least a part of a $200 student tax to the universities, not the state.

Last summer, the legislature mandated a student tax of $200 for UNC students during the 2010-11 academic year. But revenue gained from that increase won’t go to the University. It will go to the state.

That’s a problem. It is ostensibly an increase in tuition for all students in the UNC system that does nothing to improve their respective schools — which is the very reason for raising tuition in the first place.

Bowles wants to change that.

He’s going to begin lobbying state legislators to give at least half of the $200 per student back to the UNC-system schools.

He said that any redirected funds would go toward student-oriented programs such as need-based aid, student retention and improved graduation rates.

For that, he deserves our thanks and our support.

The state was wrong to tax students.

The state’s budget isn’t the only thing suffering because of the recession. Targeting a group of students armed primarily with entry-level job skills and minimum wage salaries isn’t a particularly noble way to solve North Carolina’s budget problems.

The tax is essentially a regressive tax on public higher education in North Carolina.

Tuition for any school should stay within the school. It’s as simple as that.

Kudos to Bowles for realizing that and pushing the legislature to remedy the situation.

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