The last meeting of the University’s tuition and fee advisory task force ended with student protesters chanting “shame” at Provost Bruce Carney until he retreated into his office.
That outburst, on Nov. 14, followed the committee’s recommendation that in-state undergraduates shoulder a 15.6 percent increase in tuition for the current academic year.
A similarly large hike ultimately went into effect, adding an extra $695 to resident students’ tuition bills this year.
But the task force’s first meeting of the year Friday was noticeably more relaxed.
The group, which is made up of students, faculty and administrators, addressed the possibility of increasing tuition for in-state graduate students and out-of-state undergraduates and graduate students.
A $600 increase for resident undergraduates for the 2013-14 academic year is already set in stone after being approved as part of a two-year plan by the UNC-system Board of Governors in the spring.
Student Body President Will Leimenstoll told members of the committee that the student body has largely accepted the coming $600 hike after last year’s protests failed to significantly moderate the size of tuition increases.
“In general, with out-of-state students’ tuition and graduate tuition, I mean, of course it’s always less is better,” he added.
Carney told the committee that, despite the severity of last year’s increases, 97.3 percent of last year’s freshmen returned for their sophomore year.
UNC’s financial aid office deserves the credit, Carney said, adding that the University managed to maintain its commitment to cover 100 percent of students’ demonstrated need.
“That was a really major victory,” he said. “It may only be temporary, but I’m so grateful for it.”
But the lion’s share of Friday’s discussion centered on how much to increase tuition for the out-of-state and in-state graduate student segments of campus.
Carney said he would support increasing tuition on in-state graduate students by roughly $500, representing the maximum increase allowed per the system’s cap of 6.5 percent for any tuition increase.
But he said the idea of increasing tuition by the same percentage for out-of-state students made him “uncomfortable.”
Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, agreed.
“I really do think it’s possible, especially where out-of-state tuition is right now, that a series of good and reasonable one-year decisions can over five years’ time lead us to a place where we really don’t want to be,” he said.
“And we won’t know what damage we’ve done until we’ve done it.”
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