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Tuition and fee task force continues parking fee talks

The Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force agreed on a graduate school tuition increase and postponed a decision on a controversial nighttime parking fee Thursday.

The task force dedicated nearly an hour of its meeting to brainstorming different techniques to fairly apply a night parking cost to students, faculty and staff. The cost would be a mandatory $10.40 fee for each student or an optional $227 yearlong permit.

At its last meeting, the task force clarified that no in-state tuition increases would be needed next year. Out-of-state tuition is set to increase by 12.3 percent.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Jim Dean decided to allow Student Body President Christy Lambden and Graduate and Professional Student Federation President Kiran Bhardwaj extra time to determine what their consensus was on the nighttime parking fee before he reported to Chancellor Carol Folt.

The task force came to agreement that the parking and transportation system needs to be closely investigated in order to correctly assess the actual costs of night parking.

“We need to take a comprehensive review of the entire parking and transportation system again,” Dean said. “The issue is time. We cannot finish a review before the Board of Governors meeting in March.”

While the fee has been continually debated this semester, UNC’s Department of Public Safety already budgeted the cost into its 2014-15 plan.

Without compensation for night parking, the department will be underfunded.

“It might get levied next year,” said Student Body Treasurer Matt Farley.

“I think everyone’s hesitance in the meeting with the fee is because no one really knows what is going to happen.”

The graduate school is looking to increase both resident and nonresident tuition by $350, or roughly a 4.1-percent increase for in-state graduate students and 1.2-percent increase for out-of-staters, said Dwayne Pinkney, vice provost for finance and academic planning.

Some of these funds will be used for financial aid and about $2 million will be dedicated to faculty retention.

“Every faculty member that we lose is not coming back, so I do think the stakes for this increase are quite high,” Dean said.

Bhardwaj said the graduate and professional student population, while against most tuition and fee increases, fully supports retention of professors.

“I’m comfortable with these increases as they are,” Bhardwaj said.

Despite the troubles with the parking fee, Farley said the meeting was a success.

“I thought it was very productive,” he said. “I really appreciated that they were open and willing to listen to student input.”

All fee and tuition increases approved by the task force must still be confirmed by the chancellor, Board of Trustees, Board of Governors and N.C. General Assembly.

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