As UNC struggles to adapt to this year’s round of budget cuts, administrators are already preparing for next year — and large tuition hikes are on the table.
A cut in state funding of more than $100 million this year was tempered by a $20 million transfer from UNC Health Care, a gift that won’t be part of the University’s budget come 2012, said Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost.
YEARS OF BUDGET CUTS
Administrators enumerated the effects of multi-year cuts Wednesday. They include:
- 16,232 fewer seats available and 556 fewer course sections
- 1,167 fewer subscriptions to magazines and journals
- The number of classes with fewer than 20 students has decreased by 18.2 percent
- The number of classes with 40 to 49 students has increased by 22.5 percent
Administrators and trustees addressed that gap several times Wednesday at committee meetings of the Board of Trustees, with the ensuing discussion revolving around whether the University should continue to honor its commitment to low tuition rates.
Tuition increases at UNC are capped annually at 6.5 percent for state residents, but some trustees expressed the need for tuition to bear a larger share of the burden.
“We have to be creative, it seems to me, in ways that we have not been to make sure the University continues to be affordable,” said Wade Hargrove, chairman of the board, in an interview.
Hargrove added that he understands the rationale of the annual cap, and that it’s too early to know the shape plans will take.
Outgoing trustee John Ellison said in one of the committee meetings that the University should consider hiking tuition rates substantially, while devoting much of the increase to comprehensive financial aid and higher faculty salaries.
But others in attendance pointed out that the plan would be very unpopular, especially in the state legislature and among students.
“The first reaction of the students, before (Student Body President) Mary (Cooper) explains it to them, is going to be very negative,” Ellison said.
In past years, the Board of Governors, which established the 6.5 percent cap on tuition hikes, has roundly opposed high tuition models such as those instituted by the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan.
Carney and Dick Mann, vice chancellor for finance and administration, presented the effects of multi-year cuts to the budget, showing the need for additional revenue.
Administrators have already initiated plans to manage cuts for 2012-13, and some possible solutions have presented themselves, Carney said.
“Maybe we’ll get some help from outside, maybe tuition will save the day,” he said.
Carney supported a supplemental tuition hike this summer to ease the effects of funding cuts, but UNC-system President Thomas Ross advised chancellors against supplemental increases.
Mann pointed out that the University’s high dependence on state funding compared to that of peer institutions is due in large part to its historically low tuition.
“If we go too much further, we’re at risk of becoming dysfunctional,” Mann said.
The full Board of Trustees meets today at 9 a.m. at the Carolina Inn.
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