UNC-system administrators say they will use their newfound flexibility with tuition revenues to better meet students’ financial aid needs.
After the UNC-system Board of Governors voted Friday to grant universities more control of their funds, tuition and fee committees across the system will take a closer look at their schools’ individual financial aid needs.
New system policy
The UNC-system Board of Governors approved a new policy Friday that grants schools the flexibility to determine how much tuition increase revenue they’ll devote to need-based financial aid.
Universities were previously required to allocate at least 25 percent of new tuition revenues to need-based financial aid.
- The new policy removes minimum set aside for need-based aid.
- The amount schools set aside for need-based aid will also now be specified on students’ tuition bills.
- The changes to tuition revenue and bills will apply beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.
System universities were previously required to allocate at least 25 percent of new revenue from tuition increases to need-based financial aid.
But now each campus can determine for itself the amount set aside for aid.
Most schools have not yet decided the amount they will now designate toward financial aid.
Cameron Carswell, president of the system’s Association of Student Governments, said in an email that an across-the-board implementation doesn’t reflect each campus’s needs.
“Each institution is unique,” Carswell said. “By keeping the conversation about financial aid at a university level, it allows conversations between chancellors, administrators, students and board of trustee members.”
Half of the 16 universities in the UNC system allocate more than the minimum 25 percent of tuition revenue to need-based financial aid.
UNC-CH allocates the most — about 37 percent of its tuition increase revenue.
Tuition and fees committees, which are typically composed of students, faculty and staff, have their final proposals approved by the Board of Governors each spring.
Angela Laird Brenton, provost of Western Carolina University, said the universities all have different demographics when it comes to the amount of financial aid students need.
“Each campus within the UNC system has such a different context,” she said.
The schools also vary in their sources of funding.
For example, UNC-Charlotte has many students using federally funded Pell grants, while students at other schools, such as UNC-CH, have more access to private funding, said Philip Dubois, chancellor of UNC-C.
John Fletcher, associate provost for enrollment services at East Carolina University, said ECU’s committee will analyze students’ current financial needs and take unmet need and student debt into account.
Dubois said he expects UNC-C’s tuition and fee committee to continue to set aside 25 percent of tuition revenues for need-based aid, as it has done for the past decade.
System administrators say they will try not to sacrifice affordability for students as they assume more control over their use of tuition revenues.
“We continue to be very concerned with the accessibility of higher education,” Brenton said.
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