In-state students may not face higher tuition next year following action by the UNC System Board of Governors on Feb. 11 that would freeze in-state tuition for 2005-06.
The board did not take action on proposed tuition increases for out-of-state students or for graduate students. It also did not act on proposed higher student fees. The board could decide on those proposals in March. Also, the N.C. General Assembly could raise tuition during its budget deliberations.
In late January, UNC’s Board of Trustees voted to raise undergraduate tuition for 2005-06 by $200 a year for in-state students and $950 for out-of-state students. The increases would have brought in-state tuition to $3,405 a year and out-of-state to $17,253.
Such increases backed by the trustees are subject to approval by the UNC System Board of Governors, whose chairman, Brad Wilson, had indicated an unwillingness to increase tuition for the coming academic year at any UNC System campus.
The trustees also approved a 5.2 percent increase in all student fees, but what caught many by surprise was approval of a special $50 increase next year in the athletics fee, which is currently $98.50, followed by an additional $100 increase in that fee for 2006-07.
The extra $150 would go to the athletics department for use with Olympic sports’ coaches salaries and operating budgets, both of which are now in the bottom third in the Atlantic Coast Conference. A $150 increase in the athletics fee would represent an increase of 150 percent.
Carolina’s student leaders were stunned by the trustees’ action on tuition and the athletics fee. In strong language following a meeting five days after the trustees’ vote, the Student Congress unanimously passed two resolutions opposing the increases.
Congress Speaker Charlie Anderson said the increases “completely undermined the work we’ve done this year.” Student Body President Matt Calabria said the athletics fee increase was particularly disappointing because both the Student Fee Audit Committee and the Chancellor’s Committee on Student Fees had recommended against it. Vice President Alexa Kleysteuber said the increases were a “huge disappointment and a slap in the face to students.”
The campus Tuition Task Force, which includes students, faculty and administrators, had recommended three options for tuition: a $350 in-state hike and $800 for out-of staters, a $300 and $1,000 option, and a $250 and $1,200 option.
The Board of Governors faced a range of requests for more tuition: All but one school in the 16-campus UNC System (The School of the Arts) requested tuition increases.
Four of Carolina’s professional schools also asked for higher tuition, which the trustees approved. The schools of business, law, medicine and public health requested annual tuition increases of $500 to $3,000 each. Those proposals await BOG action.
The athletics department has said that the fee increase is needed to boost coaching salaries among UNC’s Olympic sports and to provide for renovation of some existing athletic facilities. Athletics officials also have cited higher scholarship costs in recent years, pushed up by tuition increases dating from 2000. Many of UNC’s scholarship athletes are out-of-state students, and the athletics department says rising costs to meet those scholarship commitments no longer can be met by the Educational Foundation alone.
Carolina has 28 men’s and women’s sports – a larger offering than any other ACC school – and even with the increase, Carolina’s fees would remain among the lowest in the ACC.
The trustees also moved to create more money to fund merit-based scholarships. Currently, 75 percent of profits from the sale of UNC logo merchandise goes to need-based scholarships, and the remaining 25 percent goes to the athletics department. The proposal approved by the trustees redirects that 25 percent of merchandise profits to merit-based scholarships. That would yield about $900,000 annually for such scholarships. While the athletics department would be losing that $900,000 a year, the net increase to athletics of a $150 increase in the athletics fee would be $2.7 million a year.
Most changes to student fees occur in the fall, when organizations submit proposals that are subject to review. This proposal emerged in January at the initiative of Faculty Chair Judith Wegner and went before the two fee committees without going before the usual discussion among the student body.
During the trustees’ deliberations, Moeser recommended lowering the proposed tuition increases by the amount of the fee increases to lessen the impact on students. The trustees agreed.
Trustees Chairman Richard “Stick” Williams ’75 said the tuition and fee increases are necessary and reasonable. “All universities are having to raise tuition right now,” Williams said. “This is not going to change where we are relative to our peers.”
In an attempt to address the students’ financial concerns, the trustees reduced the tuition increases for both in- and out-of-state students by $50 from their original proposal of $250 for in-state and $1,000 for out-of-state students.
The tuition increases would have generated approximately $7.5 million in gross revenue for the University. It would have been used for financial aid, faculty salaries, teaching assistant stipends and reducing the faculty/student ratio.