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Board of Governors will discuss UNC system’s peers today

University administrators have long suggested that higher tuition might be the most effective way to offset budget cuts in coming years.

But even after a revision of the list of UNC’s peer institutions, which could have paved the way for a higher tuition model, administrators remain at the mercy of the Board of Governors for any changes.

The 6.5 percent increase cap on tuition set by the board is the main obstacle keeping UNC from matching its public peer institutions’ tuition levels.

The board will meet today to discuss revisions to UNC’s 16 peer institutions, which will now include Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota, said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney.

The addition of the schools won’t allow for higher tuition for UNC, as Northwestern is a private institution and Minnesota’s tuition is lower than that of the University of Illinois, the school it will replace.

UNC’s peer institutions provide comparison for graduation rates, retention rates, salaries and space allocation in addition to tuition levels, Carney said.

The remaining public institutions on UNC’s list of peers might influence future tuition increase decisions, Carney said.

The University of California-Los Angeles — listed as an aspirational peer of UNC — recently implemented an 8 percent increase, and an additional 9.6 percent increase shortly after, said Ricardo Vazquez, a spokesman for the University of California system.

“Students have not been happy about it, but the state has cut our funding and it was unfortunately necessary,” Vazquez said.

The cost of tuition and fees for in-state residents at UCLA is $12,686, and $35,564 for out-of-state students, which is much higher than what UNC students pay.

Carney said the board will decide whether or not to allow increases in UNC system schools above 6.5 percent in its next few meetings.

“If they do in fact give us authorization to supplement the 6.5 percent increase I would want to engage it,” Carney said.

“We are really interested in protecting the quality and value of the degrees our students receive.”

Scholarship and student aid officials said the University would still be able to accommodate need-based aid even with a large tuition and fees hike.

Phillip Asbury, deputy director of scholarships and student aid at UNC, wrote in an email that financial aid would remain a priority in the event of an increase in tuition.

“We are confident and optimistic that we will have sufficient resources to meet those increasing levels of need,” he said.

Restructuring the amount of work-study awards and loans could be a way to make sure it could cover all need-based aid, said Student Body President Mary Cooper.

But right now Cooper’s main concern is communicating with students and explaining why tuition hikes are necessary, she said.

“We’re trying to think of a creative ways to explain the tuition increases in a non-depressing way,” she said. “Because, arguably, we all know it’s going to happen.”

She said student leaders have been asking for student opinions to better represent them.

“Now we’re gearing up for hard but necessary discussions,” she said. “But right now everyone is asking what the BOG is going to do.”

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