Offsetting budget cuts has spurred a divide between administrators, with some leaning toward substantial tuition increases and others calling for alternate forms of action.
Former UNC-system President Dick Spangler said the University must maintain its low cost and high quality of education.
Spangler offered 10 recommendations to avoid raising tuition for in-state students at a panel discussion with four former UNC-system presidents and current president Thomas Ross earlier this month.
But while Spangler’s suggestions would cut costs in the short term, administrators say tuition increases are a more viable revenue source for universities’ long-term budgetary woes.
The system absorbed a state funding cut of 15.6 percent this year, and many universities are considering substantial tuition increase proposals to offset this $414 million shortfall.
Spangler, who led the system from 1986 to 1997, said raising tuition would contradict the stated purpose of UNC-system schools in the state constitution.
The constitution says system schools must provide a free university education for state residents “as far as practicable.”
Because of the state’s 10.5 percent unemployment rate, many families wouldn’t even consider applying to UNC-system schools if tuition rates were raised, he said.
“One of the great assets of our state has been the UNC schools because we train students who then can get a job and pay taxes,” he said. “By preserving tuition, the state is investing in leaders and employees.”