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'Freeze and cap' complicates aid

The executive branch and the Campus Y held a forum to address concerns about the Board of Governor’s “Freeze and Cap” policy, which caps the amount of tuition revenue allocated to need-based aid at 15 percent .

Chancellor Carol Folt and Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, assured students the university is “100 percent committed to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need.”

“We are proud of Carolina’s incredible commitment to keeping excellence high, tuition low,” Folt said. “We will continue to provide need-blind and full-need aid. I don’t think you could come up with another university that does that.”

During the Q&A session, students expressed concern over the time frame of this cap and UNC’s future affordability.

Student Body President Andrew Powell said he is confident Folt’s administration will find a way to keep tuition down and financial aid high.

“Carolina remains committed to meeting 100 percent of need-based aid commitments despite any policy changes or financial restraints,” Powell said.

UNC’s tuition and financial aid model has changed over the past few years.

In 2012, the BOG eliminated a 25 percent minimum for tuition revenue reserved for need-based aid.

“In times when the state budgets allocated more funds to universities, there was a low-tuition low-aid model,” Farmer said. “One consequence of this is even if tuition is $10 and you don’t have that and you don’t get aid, it might as well be $10,000.”

For 2014-15, UNC allocated 20.9 percent of tuition revenue toward need-based aid.

In light of the cap, Folt and Farmer are looking to other revenue sources.

“We will have a good opportunity to develop a new model for how a public university funds financial aid,” Farmer said.

The University’s need-based aid will not change until tuition increases.

“Some of this is an incentive to keep tuition down,” Folt said.

Dinesh McCoy, co-president of the Campus Y, said it will take a coalition of students, faculty and administration to garner support from legislators.

“If we can create  a collaborative approach to the need-based aid conversation, we have done a service to UNC,” said Kyle Villemain, student body vice president.

Villemain hopes the issue will encourage collaboration between student organizations.

“Student government sees this as a chance to unite the student body,” he said.

“I want to take this issue and turn it into action,” said junior Zach Padgett.

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Student government plans to gather stories from students harmed by these cuts.

Folt hopes stories from students will convince state legislators to support need-based aid.

“When we call, people will answer,” Farmer said.