Amberly Nardo loves being a Tar Heel.
But if she were applying to college today, the rising out-of-state tuition might have deterred her from ever stepping a foot on campus.
“It’s hard to plan how financially your life is going to look like with it constantly changing,” said Nardo, a senior from Miami. “There were years earlier in my time at UNC when I had to consider possibly transferring … regardless of how much I love UNC.”
Next year, an out-of-state tuition increase is planned for several system campuses — as enacted by the N.C. General Assembly in the state budget.
The increase would be 12.3 percent at UNC-CH. That hike amounts to an additional $3,469, and tuition for out-of-state undergraduates is currently $28,205.
UNC-CH administrators would have asked for a 2.5 percent — or $700 — increase for next year instead.
In August, UNC-system President Tom Ross recommended a system wide in-state tuition freeze for undergraduates and campus trustees agreed. The UNC-system Board of Governors will finalize all tuition and fee changes in February.
The board will meet today for a policy discussion about tuition and fees — a topic that has become increasingly pertinent with the 2013-14 state budget adding on about $65 million of fresh cuts for the UNC system.
According to preliminary materials for the board’s policy discussion, an estimated $39.8 million would be generated from total tuition increases across the system — $12.5 million would be available for use by the campuses.
Some of the proposed uses for the money from the tuition increases are faculty retention, need-based financial aid and expanded courses offerings.
Robert Nunnery, president of the UNC-system Association of Student Governments and a non-voting member of the board, said it’s important for universities to continue to recruit out-of-state students.
“It makes students have a better world view because we’re not just around people who are from North Carolina,” he said. “Keeping the rates competitive brings more … to the classroom.
“(But) there has to be that balance, what can the system afford? We have a constitutional commitment to our in-state students.”
The North Carolina constitution mandates that in-state tuition be kept as low as practicable. But some are worried that continuously increasing tuition for out-of-state students could affect the University’s ability to attract top students.
Senior Sneha Rao, from Maryland, said the current out-of-state price tag, coupled with the looming increase, would have given her pause four years ago as she applied to colleges.
“UNC is known as the best value school, but as you keep increasing tuition, your name as a best value school might be called into question,” she said.
In November, Stephen Farmer, UNC-CH’s vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, told the Board of Trustees that such a hefty increase could make UNC less competitive.
According to a survey of admitted students, 58 percent of students who were admitted to the University but chose another school reported that UNC was too expensive.
Senior Michael Hardison loves UNC, and his younger sister, a high school junior in Virginia, wants to follow in his footsteps. But due to the rising tuition prices, he said his family is hesitant to encourage her application.
“I’m fortunate in the fact that I’m graduating, and I’m not going to feel the brunt of it, but I have a lot of friends who are out-of-state and have a few more years ahead of them,” Hardison said. “They already know that they’re going to be hurting.”
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