Members of the UNC-system Board of Governors hope to show their disapproval of the state legislature’s proposed budget by postponing any discussion of supplemental tuition increases at their monthly meeting.
Board members will meet today and Friday to discuss the implications of a $407 million decrease in state funding for the system.
By the Numbers
- $407 million proposed state funding cut
- $750 extra tuition at UNC in 10-11
- 6.5 percent UNC tuition hike in 11-12
- $7,008 tuition and fees in 11-12
Board of Governors
Time: 10 a.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday
Location: UNC General Administration Building
Board Chairwoman Hannah Gage said in an email that raising tuition would send the wrong message to legislators because it might encourage them to further cut funding for the system.
But Gage also said that some UNC-system schools can afford “slight” tuition increases that would keep them at or below the cost of peer institutions.
“I’m not opposed to thoughtful tuition increases, and for schools like Chapel Hill, there’s significant headroom to increase tuition and still stay in the bottom quartile (of cost among peer institutions),” she said.
Last year’s state budget included a provision that enabled the board to approve a $750 supplemental tuition increase for UNC students. Gage said she hopes the board will resist the urge to consider system-wide tuition hikes as a quick fix for the budget woes at the meeting.
Jay Schalin, a senior writer for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a nonprofit institution dedicated to improving higher education in the state, said the system needs to look at each campus individually when deciding whether or not to increase tuition.
Jon Young, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Fayetteville State University, said administrators will not seek another supplemental tuition increase.
The board approved a supplemental increase of $100 last year and $150 for the upcoming academic year at Fayetteville State. Young said about 70 percent of the school’s students qualify for Pell grants and would be harmed by another tuition increase.
“It’s not likely that we would raise tuition unless it’s an absolute necessity,” he said.
Young said cuts in state funding will likely result in 350 to 450 fewer course sections being offered, though the state budget has not been finalized.
Gov. Bev Perdue has until June 14 to veto or sign the budget, or it becomes law.
Gage said her concern is that legislators’ most recent budgetary decisions are indicative of a departure from the state’s historic commitment to higher education.
“That’s what I lose sleep over and that’s what we all should be worrying about,” Gage said.
She said the UNC system’s budget has been cut by more than $1 billion during the past five years.
The cost of attending a state university should not be increased because of a lack of state funding, Gage said.
“Tuition is a secondary, not primary source of funding, and the state constitution did not intend for students and families to carry that burden,” she said.
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