The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday March 25th

Community college surcharge proposed

North Carolina community colleges could see a tuition surcharge in an effort to upgrade equipment — particularly for students pursuing medical and information technology professions.

If approved, the proposal would give local Boards of Trustees the option to set a tuition surcharge of up to 10 percent. 

Colleges could apply this money for state-approved purposes, as well as permitted capital improvement projects.

“I don’t like tuition increases, but I am in favor of the option to do this because the needs of our students to have the kind of equipment for our medical programs and IT programs is far beyond the amount of money we have,” said Stephen Scott, president of Wake Technical Community College. 

Current tuition at Wake Tech is $76 per credit hour, and the average student takes 10 credit hours.

Scott said Wake Tech receives $3.2 million from the state when the normal need is around $12 million — a $9 million shortfall. To fill the gaps, the college depends on equipment donations from local industries. 

“It is constantly a balancing act. We never raise $9 million,” he said.

The tuition surcharge could add $3.5 million for Wake Tech’s equipment, Scott said. 

William Ingram, the president of Durham Technical Community College, said he does not think the proposal will be approved. 

“There are some strong reasons why it is being considered right now – we are underfunded and recently the bulk of funding is coming from tuition,” he said. 

“Tuition dollars are not staying with the college. They go to (the) state treasurer and state funds.”

Ingram said Durham Tech’s annual state budget is around $26 million, and it has lost a little more than $1 million due to a management flexibility cut. 

“We are clearly (as) underfunded as in public schools and universities,” he said.

Priya Balakrishnan, president of N.C. Comprehensive Community College Student Government Association, said in a statement that students see more cons than pros. 

“A lot of places do need upgrades,” she said. “However, there are other alternatives that the state could consider that could increase the revenue stream without inconsistently increasing tuition.”

She said in the statement a tuition surcharge would defy the mission of the community college system — and cited a $4 increase implemented this year. 

“Though it may be a useful opportunity for community colleges that have a need for funds, the students think it will break the bond that all N.C. Community Colleges currently have,” she said. 

If the proposal advances to the state board next week, Balakrishnan said the student government organization will likely plan a meeting to voice opinions in a presentable manner.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel's 2023 Black History Month Edition

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive