A recommendation to the UNC-system Board of Governors to charge tuition by the credit hour could inhibit students from taking more classes.
The board is expected to discus changes to the system’s tuition policy at its meeting Thursday. Although charging tuition according to credit hours is on the table, board members are hesitant to approve it as a system-wide policy.
Recommendations for updating tuition policy
- Allowing campuses to increase tuition by a maximum of 10 percent in years when the state appropriations are less than 6 percent. The current cap is 6.5 percent.
- Reconsider using the bottom quarter of tuition rates of peer public institutions as benchmarks.
- Giving campuses increased discretion in setting non-resident tuition rates.
- Having different tuition models for different campuses.
- Having similar tuition rates for similar institutions with same teaching missions.
- Clearly defining the role of students in the tuition decision-making process.
- Charging students by credit hours on select, pilot campuses.
This year, members of the board are reviewing the Four Year Tuition Plan, which was set in place by UNC-system President Erskine Bowles in 2006 to make the tuition process more predictable and structured.
Possible changes to the plan stem from recommendations made by a tuition task force comprised of UNC-system representatives.
Julie Mallette, associate vice provost and director of scholarships and financial aid at N.C. State University, said in an e-mail that charging students by the credit hour has been an ongoing discussion within the university system.
“Probably the biggest negative is that students who typically take more than 12 credit hours per semester may have to pay more for tuition,” said Mallette, who is also a member of the task force. “We will not know that for sure until a per credit hour tuition rate is determined.”
UNC-system undergraduate credit hours are currently set up in a tiered system — students taking fewer than 5 credit hours pay less than students taking 6 to 8 hours and those taking 9 to 11 hours. Students taking 12 credit hours or more are charged a flat fee, which differs among universities.
While many board members plan to follow the work group’s suggestion to discuss charges for credit hours, some said they don’t think it will be implemented.
John Davis, a member of the board, said that it’s too early to know whether students might be impacted by the recommendation.
“It’s just one of many, many options. It’s too early to even get concerned at this point,” Davis said. “My guess is it’s not going to happen.”
Irvin Roseman, another board member, said that students should be able to take heavy course loads.
“I would hope they would not do that,” Roseman said.
Charles Maimone, tuition task force member and vice chancellor for business affairs at UNC- Wilmington, said discussion should be long and well thought out.
“One of our recommendations was to start with one pilot school as opposed to implementing it across the entire system,” Maimone said.
The task force has also recommended that the board look at other institutions, like the University of Wyoming, which already charge per credit hour.
The University of Wyoming adopted the new system in 2006 – charging in-state undergraduates $94 per credit and out-of-state undergraduates $358 per credit.
Tammy Aagard, Wyoming’s registrar and interim director of financial aid, said the new tuition policy has allowed the university to get a better estimate on the cost of education per student.
“It was more difficult to do that in our previous system,” Aagard said.
One of the goals with the new system was to reduce the number of students dropping classes. But the university hasn’t seen much of a change, Aagard said.
Like many UNC-system students, Aagard said before the new plan was implemented, students at the University of Wyoming were worried it might penalize students who took heavier course loads.
“One of the concerns was with our honors students, because in the past they would take up to 20 credit hours,” she said. “It was thought that we were penalizing our honor students.”
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