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Tuition safeguards for all: Tuition increase cap for out-of-state students should be included in new UNC-system tuition plan

When the UNC Board of Governors reviews the 2006 tuition plan, it must ensure that tuition protections are awarded to all students within the system. The protection should come in the form of a commitment to a percentage ceiling for tuition increases for all students — regardless of residency.

For instance, the 2006 plan promises that no tuition increase will be above 6.5 percent for in-state students.

But out-of-state students need the same assurance. Without protection, there is no way to predict tuition increases during an academic career.

After all, both residents and nonresidents face the same financial struggles. And remember, the difference between nonresident and resident proposed tuition increases for the 2010-11 school year was nearly $1,000.

The UNC system has reiterated its commitment to serving all students equally in a variety of ways.

The Board of Governors has shifted priorities from enrollment growth to freshman retention and six-year graduation rates. Both these factors are influenced by tuition increases. Thus, the Board of Governors has a stake in every out-of-state student forced to transfer because of the inability to plan for tuition increases.

In addition, the University has a commitment to economic diversity through a need-blind admission policy. In other words, a student’s socioeconomic status is not considered during the admissions process.

But this commitment is not extended past admission.

While the Carolina Covenant scholarship is an excellent step forward, middle-class students can be left out of the mix. And the lack of commitment to a tuition increase ceiling further deteriorates this promise.

And lastly, the UNC system is not solely funded by North Carolina’s taxpayers. More than a fifth of the University’s revenue comes from the federal government.

North Carolina residents cannot, therefore, claim the UNC-system schools can thrive without help from nonresidents — both students or not.

The University of North Carolina was founded upon and maintains a commitment to the education of the state’s taxpayers. But this does not mean that is has no commitment to out-of-state students either.

The state recognizes the academic and economic contributions of nonresidents and has time and again reiterated a commitment to economic diversity and academic success of the entire student body at each UNC-system school, not just in-state students.

For these reasons, it is more than reasonable to suggest that any UNC-system tuition plan provide protection against overly burdensome tuition hikes for nonresidents.

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