The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday May 31st

Levels of UNC financial aid could decrease

UNC-system President Thomas Ross wants to hand the reins to campuses to determine how much tuition revenue they should devote to need-based financial aid.

Campuses have been required to set aside at least 25 percent of new revenue from tuition increases for need-based financial aid since the adoption of the second four-year tuition and fee plan in 2010.

But at last month’s UNC-system Board of Governors meeting, Ross introduced the idea of capping the amount at 25 percent. The proposal was met with concern from some board members and chancellors, as many campuses currently give more than 25 percent.

UNC-CH gives 38 percent of new revenue from tuition increases to need-based financial aid.

Ross now says he supports giving chancellors flexibility to decide the amount of tuition revenue allocated to financial aid. He recommended that the flexibility go into effect next academic year.

The board is expected to vote on the issue Thursday.

Will Leimenstoll, UNC-CH student body president, called Ross’s stance against a cap “absolutely a good thing.”

If the board did impose a 25 percent cap on the revenue from tuition increases that goes to need-based aid, some students at the University could lose aid, he said.

Leimenstoll organized a letter-writing campaign to bring students’ voices across the system to board members.

“We don’t want this to be just for UNC,” Leimenstoll said. “We want this to be for all the campuses.”

Sarah Kaminer, a UNC-CH senior and a Carolina Covenant scholar, said she has been participating in the student discussions to offer a more human perspective on financial aid.

“I’m there to remind them about things I think are relevant to students receiving aid,” she said.

Kaminer said Carolina Covenant scholars will be at Thursday’s board meeting, not to protest but to show the board that they care.

“It’s important to have someone there who is really passionate about financial aid — not from a policy standpoint or an educational reform stance, but as a student who relies on financial aid and would be significantly affected if there were harmful changes,” she said.

The letters will be mailed to board members Wednesday, said Will Lindsey, co-chairman of the Carolina Advocacy Committee.

He said anywhere between 50 to 400 letters would be helpful.

Shirley Ort, UNC-CH’s associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid, said she thinks giving chancellors more flexibility is the right thing to do.

She said UNC-CH hasn’t given less than 35 percent of new revenue to need-based financial aid since a policy was set in place in 1999.
“This source of funding is vitally important to UNC students,” she said.

Staff writer Vinayak Balasubramanian
contributed reporting.

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