At Thursday’s Board of Governors budget and finance committee meeting, UNC-system President Thomas Ross’s tuition plan passed by a vote of 5-1. But the discussion surrounding the vote was still contentious, and its subject has the potential to change the character of UNC even more than the highest tuition increase would.
The issue on the table was not whether to pass Ross’ plan, but how these increases would be spent. Board members discussed limiting campus autonomy in determining something that many students have taken for granted during tuition discussions: UNC’s ability to meet all demonstrated financial need.
When we discussed tuition at UNC this fall, we assumed each school would be able to allocate increases as it saw fit. At UNC, this would mean dedicating 38 percent of increases to need-based financial aid.
Ross’ plan gives campuses the chance to set their own allocations for aid. This means that even when tuition goes up, students’ expected contribution will not.
Obviously, there are still significant problems with tuition increases: sticker price deters students who might be able to afford UNC if they applied for financial aid, while students in the middle get squeezed with loans and another part-time job.