Out-of-state students are facing a steep increase in tuition next year — unless the N.C. General Assembly repeals the decision made this summer to write the increases into the state budget.
UNC-system officials said during a policy discussion Thursday that they plan to ask the state legislature to repeal its decision to raise out-of-state tuition for most system schools by as much as 12.3 percent. Chancellors stressed to the UNC-system Board of Governors the negative effect such a sharp increase could have on their campuses.
“This is one of the last things we want to touch because quality of faculty and quality of students are what makes an institution strong, and we think this could have a serious effect,” UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt told the board. “We certainly know that we’d see a serious reduction in the number of applicants … They will say they think the cost of Carolina is too high.”
The increase would be 12.3 percent at UNC-CH, which would amount to $3,469. Tuition for out-of-state undergraduates at the University is currently $28,205.
In-state undergraduates across the system will not see a tuition increase next year, pending the board’s final approval.
Charlie Perusse, chief operating officer for the system, said to repeal the out-of-state tuition increase would require a legislative change because it’s written in the state budget.
System officials have drafted budget priorities — which include the repeal of the tuition increases — to present to the General Assembly in the short session, which starts in May.
Campuses have already submitted the tuition increase they would have recommended had the legislature not enacted the increase. UNC-CH administrators would have asked for a 2.5 percent — or $700 — increase for next year instead.
The state legislature had bypassed the board, which typically makes the final decision on tuition prices after reviewing campus requests.
“Work with us to set tuition that is market-driven and has sensitivity to students and frankly, we think you’re in a better position to do that than the N.C. General Assembly,” said N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson.
UNC-system President Tom Ross called the increase a problem and said that it could affect the quality of students admitted. He also took issue with the disparity of increases among the campuses — zero at some, 6 percent at others and 12.3 percent at still others.
The board has mandated that out-of-state tuition should be market-driven and meet the full cost of providing an education. UNC-CH’s out-of-state tuition currently exceeds full cost by about $2,400, Folt said.
Folt said that with a 12.3 percent tuition increase, UNC-CH would lose 10 percent of its out-of-state applications, and more still would choose not to enroll.
“The more competitive the student, the more likely they are to say no to us because we know they have plenty of choices,” she said, adding that cost is a significant factor. “We might be getting to an inflection point that we just don’t want to test.”
The full board will reconvene today, and the final vote on tuition increases is expected to happen in February.
Also on Thursday, the board’s budget and finance committee voted to approve a one-year pilot program by N.C. Agricultural & Technical State University to admit a maximum of 25 percent of out-of-state students for one year.
The board has an 18 percent cap on the number of out-of-state students that most schools can admit, but N.C. A&T has bumped up against it as demand from out-of-state students increases.
One board member, Marty Kotis, voted against the program, expressing concern that it would affect the university’s ability to educate North Carolinians.
But N.C. A&T Chancellor Harold Martin said the historically black school has been aggressively recruiting in-state students and it has yielded positive results.
“We will not deny admission to any qualified student in-state to our university to admit an out-of-state student,” he said.
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