The N.C. General Assembly has a host of higher education funding questions to answer before the state budget deadline arrives at the end of June.
The House of Representatives released its budget proposal Sunday, recommending $149 million in cuts to the UNC system in 2013-14 — similar to Gov. Pat McCrory’s reductions, but nearly $100 million more than the Senate’s.
House budget writers sided with McCrory on several education issues but made clear that several of their priorities differ from their counterparts in the Senate.
Out-of-state students would see a 12.3 percent tuition increase in 2014-15 under the House’s proposal, a number that would be tacked onto any hike already approved by the UNC Board of Governors.
McCrory’s budget would mandate the same increase in the upcoming academic year, whereas the Senate chose not to raise tuition.
The House proposal, like McCrory’s, would allocate funding toward the UNC system’s five-year strategic plan, which the Senate did not do.
But the House also proposed a significant reduction in flexibility management, which would force the Board of Governors to make tough decisions about how funding should be distributed across system campuses. The cuts total $124 million, both recurring and non-recurring, next year.
Other key aspects of the House’s budget include funding a UNC-system Need-Based Grant Forward Funding Reserve to support financial grants for students and the launching of a new systemwide student enrollment initiative.
The plan, called the N.C. Guaranteed Admission Program, would guarantee some less qualified UNC-system applicants admission as juniors to their original university of choice, provided that they first earn a two-year associate’s degree at a state community college.
The budget would transfer $4.5 million from the UNC system to N.C. community colleges to fund the initiative, which would begin in the 2014-15 academic year.
Legislators now have three weeks to synthesize the three budgets currently on the table into a comprehensive plan. If a budget is not approved by June 30, the legislature will have to take action to avoid a government shutdown.
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