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UNC students tell stories of need-based aid

Students gather in the Student Union to discuss need-based aid at UNC.

Students gather in the Student Union to discuss need-based aid at UNC.

Gihwala said one of the benefits of having a strong financial aid program at UNC was the diversity it created among students.

Gihwala was one of dozens of students at “Student Stories: A 100% Need-Based Event,” a program sponsored by the executive branch of student government, Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach and the Campus Y. A panel of students talked about the Board of Governors’ new cap-and-freeze plan, which limits the amount of tuition that can go towards need-based aid to 15 percent.

Under the new proposal, if the University devotes more than this percentage, then the total dollar amount would be frozen until it was lower than 15 percent of the price of tuition.

When the proposal passed over the summer, members of the BOG said they wanted to minimize the hardship on middle-class families created by rising tuition.

Members of the board felt the cap-and-freeze rule would decrease the rate of tuition increases by placing a cap on the percentage of tuition that can go to need-based aid.

“There was an idea that we were content with raising the overall price of tuition, if we would keep increasing aid incrementally, and they thought that’s a problem,” said Student Body President Andrew Powell, who sat on the panel.

Although the Board of Governors might see it that way, Powell said it might not be the case.

“Aid doesn’t drive tuition increases. Tuition increases drive requisite aid increases,” he said.

Powell said the policy change should not impact students, regardless of whether they receive need-based aid.

“It’s not any sort of doom and gloom situation necessarily, because our commitment to meeting 100 percent of student need is such a high priority for the University, that we will sacrifice a lot of other things before we ball up on that commitment,” Powell said.

As one of the last remaining public universities that is dedicated to meeting 100 percent of a student’s financial need, Powell said the issue was one of the top priorities of student government and the University administration.

The University is committed to continuing its need-based aid program, even if it involves finding different sources of money for the program.

“Since it’s such a high priority, I’m very confident that we’ll find a way to make it work,” Powell said.

The meeting also included stories from students who explained how need-based tuition helped them excel at UNC, along with discussions about broader issues in financial aid.

“Financial aid and need-based financial aid at UNC is essentially a public good,” said Student Body Vice President Kyle Villemain, who also sat on the panel.

“It helps every single student here, not just the students who are receiving it.”

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