The Board of Governors' Committee on Budget and Finance met virtually on Wednesday to address fundings allocated for COVID-19, adjustments for tuition for in-state and out-of-state students next year and school fees.
As a result of COVID-19, the committee discussed UNC tuition for the upcoming year. Chairperson James Holmes Jr. recommended holding tuition costs flat for in-state students. This would be the fifth consecutive year that in-state undergraduate tuition would remain the same.
“We need to offer students and family a little bit of stability in a deeply uncertain time,” UNC-system President Peter Hans said. “Keeping a lid on tuition is the right thing to do. For North Carolina, it's the right thing to do for families facing economic hardship. ”
But UNC System Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Haygood proposed an increase for out-of-state tuition under the claim that it should be market-driven and cover the full cost of attendance.
“We do see that campuses are experiencing increased costs associated with providing adequate health services to our students, particularly as we've asked them to extend their hours of operations,” Haygood said.
This increased money would go towards offsetting in-state tuition costs, which they are not proposing to decrease.
“It's great that we're affordable for our residents, but for our non-residents, every dollar we can get from a non-resident helps offset the cost of a resident,” committee member Marty Kotis said. “Whether it goes directly to the University or whether it goes back into the general fund and is then available to use for the benefits for the people of the state.”
This proposal must still be approved by the full Board of Governors, which is set to meet Thursday.
Potential fee increases
The committee proposed that the application fee does not increase for UNC System schools in the upcoming year. However, there was debate over increasing current student fees.
Committee Vice Chairperson J. Alex Mitchell supported new increases in fees for the 2021-2022 school year as a result of COVID-19.
“I do still think that we're going to need to have sort of ramped up health center hours and expenses will be incurred there,” Mitchell said.
The board was also concerned about increased funding for mental health issues for students during the pandemic.
But board member Steven Long saw the benefit in taking a break in fee increases and emphasized the importance of better adhering to the board’s policy on only increasing fees for extenuating circumstances.
“I would encourage the president to look at the policy and get us back on to a two-year cycle, with only extenuating circumstances allowing the fee increase in the interim," Long said.
UNC-Wilmington Chancellor Jose Sartarelli expressed concern for offering fully remote semesters in the future.
“As soon as you go online, you're not collecting a lot of fees,” he said. “This is going to cost us, at this very moment, this year, a lot of money.”
The committee plans to further clarify the difference between a remote student and an in-person student. The committee will review, discuss and vote on these proposals at a future meeting regarding tuition and fees.
Additional COVID-19 funding allocations
The board also voted on additional COVID-19 funding allocations for the current school year, as the General Assembly allocated an additional $13 million in COVID-19 relief funds to the UNC System. These funds will be distributed among UNC System schools based on the current number of students living on campus.
Specific funding was also allocated to assist the new teacher support program, private post-secondary institutions, students with disabilities, COVID-19 research and advancements and other areas of the state that need pandemic-related funding.