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UNC School of the Arts may raise tuition above cap

UNC School of the Arts is the latest school attempting to take advantage of a new tuition policy that allows them to increase tuition well beyond the system’s mandated cap.

UNCSA’s Board of Trustees approved Thursday a proposal to raise tuition by $3,000 during the next five years, a 64 percent increase from this year’s tuition of $4,716.

The proposed hike would raise tuition rates by $750 for all university students next year, a 15.9 percent increase for in-state undergraduates.

The $3,000 supplemental increase will be spread out as a $600 increase per year, starting next year. The remaining $150 is the annual campus-initiated tuition increase.

The system’s Board of Governors approved a new Four Year Tuition Plan last year that maintains a 6.5 percent cap on tuition increases. But the plan includes a “catch up” clause that allows schools to propose increases above the cap to bring tuition rates in line with their public peers.

The plan requires universities to remain within the bottom quartile of their peers’ tuition rates.

Nick Correa, UNCSA student body president, said the tuition proposal would move the university from the bottom of its peers’ rates to the top of the lowest quartile.

The majority of students understand the proposed increase is necessary, he said.

“A couple of students, of course, have pushed back, suggesting that instead of making students and their families pay, that the administration takes pay cuts,” he said. “When we come back and explain to them that that’s not practical, in the situation that we’re in right now, they’ve been understanding.”

Correa is the first student body president to lead the university’s tuition and fees committee.

He said this was also the first year that students have been involved during the tuition proposal process at open forums.

UNCSA’s budget received a cut of $3 million in state funding this year.

“We are committed to keeping our prices as low as possible, but we’re also — like everyone — looking at the financial realities of our day,” said David Nelson, the university’s provost.

“I think there is some room there for us to raise our tuition and still remain very, very competitive with our peers.”

UNCSA can increase its tuition and fees by as much as $3,281, or 49 percent, in order to remain in the bottom quartile, said Charlie Perusse, vice president for finance for the UNC system.

Of UNCSA’s 13 peers, eight are private schools such as Juilliard. Because of the nature of an arts university, peers are selected based on the university’s individual schools, Nelson said.

For example, Purchase College, in the State University of New York system, a public school, is considered a public peer for UNCSA’s schools of music and dance.

Purchase has the closest tuition to UNCSA, just $153.10 higher than UNCSA’s tuition and fees of $6,686 for in-state students this year.

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