For Student Body President Mary Cooper, now is the time for students to speak up about tuition.
The University’s tuition and fee advisory task force will decide on a tuition proposal to present to the Board of Trustees on Nov. 14, leaving Cooper less than two weeks to craft her own proposal for the task force.
Cooper arranged two meetings for student government to provide input on canvassing student opinion. The second of those meetings was held Thursday night.
Cooper has set up a dedicated email address and a text-in hotline on TalkBin, she said.
She also plans to distribute fliers in the Pit and host meetings for students every day next week.
“The meetings are at different times of the day so we can talk to as wide a range of students as possible,” she said.
“We have also reached out to student groups to try and get them involved.”
Last week, administrators discussed the possibility of raising tuition by $2,800 during the next two to four years, which is above the mandated 6.5 percent cap. Although the cap hasn’t officially been lifted, UNC-system administrators gave universities permission to consider higher increases if they could be justified.
At Thursday’s meeting, Cooper reiterated discouraging numbers from the University’s budget.
She cited that UNC has cut 556 course sections, totaling a loss of 16,232 classroom seats.
“UNC already has a $20 million hole in its budget,” she said.
“If we raise in-state tuition 6.5 percent, we will have a net revenue of just $8.9 million,” she said, adding that the number did not include money devoted to preserving financial aid.
Administrators said last week they might be able to fill the budget gap with the help of sources other than tuition. But Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney said tuition hikes would still be necessary in case outside funding falls through.
Jared Simmons, chairman of the finance committee of Student Congress, said UNC needs tuition hikes in order to replace the things the University has had to eliminate due to budget cuts.
“If you don’t retain faculty, then you will lose the value of your degree,” Simmons said. “Students don’t think about this. They’re just thinking about paying bills.”
Money from a tuition increase would primarily go to graduate student programs, faculty salaries, restoring lost credit hours and financial aid, Simmons said.
He urged students to not think about whether to support tuition hikes, but to consider where the revenue should go.
Lily Roberts, Cooper’s senior adviser, said students need to remember that any adjustment to tuition above the cap would occur over a multi-year period.
“Any increase would be broken up over several years, so we will not see a 40 percent increase over one year at any stage.”
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