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Friday December 3rd

UNC-system president Thomas Ross wants 9.9 percent tuition hike for UNC-CH

UNC-system President Thomas Ross recommended today that schools not increase in-state tuition and fees above 9.9 percent, which is lower than UNC-CH’s 11.4 percent increase proposal.

In a memo to members of the UNC-system Board of Governors, Ross said his recommendations — after taking out financial aid — will generate system-wide revenues of $70 million.

“One-third of those new revenues will come from increases in nonresident and graduate tuition rates,” Ross said in his memo.

Ross’ proposal, if passed by the board at it’s Feb. 10 meeting, would be $105 less per in-state undergraduate at UNC-CH than what the University proposed — $2.3 million less in overall proposed in-state revenue for the University.

And system administrators are skeptical as to whether it will be enough to revive what was lost due to a cut in state funding of 15.6 percent, or $414 million, last year.

“We don’t live in a vacuum. The simple reality is that this is a competitive market for top tier faculty members,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Wade Hargrove at Wednesday’s meeting. “If we aren’t competitive in providing resources for those top-tier faculty members we compromise our reputation.”

Ross’ proposed undergraduate in-state increases average 8.8 percent systemwide — less than last year’s average increase of 9.3 percent.

His proposal is also a lower increase than the average systemwide proposal of 9.6 percent.

Ross also reiterated in his recommendation that every campus set aside at least 25 percent for need-based aid.

In the past, UNC-CH has directed about 35 percent toward financial aid, and Chancellor Holden Thorp said that amount needs to increase.

“I hope we will be able to put aside 38 percent with these hard economic times,” Thorp said.

Board Chairwoman Hannah Gage said Ross tried to strike a balance between affordability and quality in his proposal.

“Unfortunately, campuses and chancellors wanted more and families and students wanted less,” Gage stated in an email. “This is not a win-win for anyone, but we all understand that we have to do something to stabilize the shaky ground we’ve been on since 2008.”

Ross also recommended holding tuition increases to a two-year period because of the uncertain economic climate.

Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost of UNC-CH, said the 9.9 percent increase could still provide UNC-CH with enough revenue to make progress in improving faculty salaries and decreasing class sizes.

“I don’t know what we will be giving up until I speak with the deans,” Carney said about Ross’ lower recommendation.

Ross’ out-of-state undergraduate tuition increase recommendations did not change from what UNC-system schools had previously requested, an average 4.4 percent increase systemwide.

Bill Johnson, chairman of the Board of Governors in the late 1970s, said he was disappointed that Ross’ in-state recommendation wasn’t as low as his out-of-state proposal.

“I don’t think the out-of-state applicants should be given more favorable treatment than our own North Carolina boys and girls,” said Johnson, who sent a petition earlier this month, with signatures from 21 former board members, urging the board of governors to decide against tuition increases.

UNC-CH’s recommended out-of-state tuition increase proposal is a 6 percent increase of $1,622.

UNC-CH Student Body President Mary Cooper said she supports Ross’ recommendation.

Cooper and the other UNC-system student body presidents plan to meet this weekend to take a unified stance in the tuition increase discussion.

At Wednesday’s UNC- CH Board of Trustees meeting, Hargrove took the time to thank students for participating in tuition increase discussions.

“It was our finest and best moment in addressing a difficult issue as an institution,” he said. “The goal of this board and administrations is to maintain academic quality to ensure that those who come here will have the same academic experience as those of us who were here in the past.”

Staff writer Amelia Nitz contributed reporting.

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