The UNC trustees declared loudly and clearly this week that they believe out-of-state students should pay substantially more to come to Carolina, approving a tuition increase of $1,500 a year for non-North Carolinians for next fall and endorsing the idea that UNC should be in the 75th percentile of public universities nationally in what it charges them.
In the face of a protest by students against the increase, the board voted 12-1, with only student body President Matt Tepper dissenting. It voted 11-2 for a $300 a year increase for in-state students. Both require subsequent approval of the UNC System Board of Governors.
And this could be just the beginning of the climb in tuition. The trustees were told two weeks ago that the current $15,920 paid by nonresidents in tuition and fees each year is about $6,000 short of putting UNC in the 75th percentile in out-of-state tuition among 10 of its peer universities. Carolina officials expect that bar to go up as the other schools continue to raise tuition.
“Since we’ve made a philosophical decision that we want to be more market-driven in determining our tuition, we need to now determine where the market is,” said Richard “Stick” Williams ’75, chair of the board of trustees.
Including a $121 fee increase also approved this week, the cost of an undergraduate year at Carolina next fall would be $4,493 for North Carolinians and $17,541 for students from outside the state. In-state graduate students would pay $4,690, and out-of-state grad students would pay $16,688.
Revenue from the tuition increase primarily would go to raising faculty salaries and hiring additional faculty to reduce UNC’s student-teacher ratio. The University would set aside about 40 percent of the revenues for need-based financial aid, a fairly standard practice.
A driving factor in the trustees’ decision was their alarm at the rate at which UNC faculty are leaving for better offers at other universities, mostly private ones. In the past three years, the University has seen a drop in its ability to fend off raids on faculty, from a 60 percent retention rate to the current 40 percent. On the other side of the issue, students have been telling the trustees for the past two weeks that $1,500 is too much to raise rates at one time and that it is unfair to charge that much against only $300 for in-state students. Both increases amount to 10 percent.
Chancellor James Moeser said that the current tuition proposal reflects that faculty salaries and faculty retention are a top priority of the University.
With recent budget issues a concern and state appropriations accounting for only 25 percent of funding, Moeser said that UNC increasingly is becoming reliant on research funding attracted by professors. He said that the University is moving to diversify its funding sources and that campus-based tuition increases are one of many options they continue to explore.
Students have flooded the administration with e-mail messages, and more than 100 students attended the decisive Jan. 20 meeting. More than 200 attended a teach-in about the increase proposal last week.
The Faculty Council voted unanimously last week to oppose the $1,500 increase, in part because a task force of students, faculty and administrators agreed to recommend a $300 increase for all students. The campus Tuition Task Force, which has studied the issue of tuition increases in detail over the past three years, overwhelmingly favored a $300 increase for all students.
Dropped from the tuition increase was a controversial proposal to fund talent and merit-based scholarships with a percentage of the money collected. Private foundations, including the Rams Club, have been unable to meet rising scholarship costs in the past year, and University officials explored the idea of creating a “bridge fund” until they could fully meet these needs again.
According to the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, UNC’s current out-of-state tuition and fees cover about $300 more than the total cost of educating a student while the rate paid by N.C. residents is far short of the actual cost. While in-state tuition is subsidized by N.C. taxpayers, Moeser acknowledged that the prevailing assumption had been that nonresidents did not cover the actual cost of their education.
Of 10 peer institutions, UNC’s out-of-state tuition for undergraduates is lower than all but the universities of Texas and Florida, and it is lower than all except Texas for graduate students. The mean among those 10 schools is $18,180 for undergraduates and $18,998 for graduate students.
The three most recent campus-based increases have been $300 for everyone. That means, percentage-wise, a much bigger hike for in-staters.
Since 2000, when campus-based increases first were allowed in addition to UNC System Board of Governors and legislative hikes, undergraduate tuition at Carolina has risen 47 percent, 33 percent for those from out of state.
None of the other UNC System universities requested a differential increase for residents and nonresidents. Each of the other schools asked the BOG to approve $300 across the board except UNC-Wilmington, which requested $360.
In passing the tuition increase, trustees rejected a last-ditch proposal crafted by Tepper that would have recommended a 5 percent increase for all undergraduate students with a $1,500 increase for nonresident students beginning next year.
Tepper said he was frustrated with the trustees’ decision but said he was proud with the respectful way students handled the process.
“Campus morale is down,” Tepper said. “It will take a lot of work by the administration to ensure students that they have a place where they can go to be taken care of if they need help.”
Tepper said he understood the difficult nature of the tuition discussions but said he hoped changes could be made to prevent such future sharp increases.
“The ideal goal in the tuition philosophy is to have a gradual increase so students can have something to plan by,” he said. “We’ve had lots of jumps in our recent history, so we need to work with the Legislature so we can have more predictability in our future tuition increases.”
The trustees’ echoed Tepper’s sentiment to conduct studies on the impact of this most recent increase.
“I think it would be valuable to follow up on how the tuition increases are spent,” said Nelson Schwab III ’67, the trustee’s vice chairman. “It would be good to see the proof in the pudding here, so we can see if it’s working and not just dissipating into another round of tuition increases.”
It would make sense to charge more for out-of-state students if they were not already paying the total cost of their education at UNC. Since these students fully fund their education, the $1,500 increase is being used to pay for students from the state of North Carolina. It seems the state of North Carolina is just trying to get out of having to pay to educate its own students, and we are being required to give Carolina a $1,500 contribution. It should at least be tax-deductible, since my out-of-state student gets no direct benefit from this money!
Donna Hobbs ’75
Should have been done years ago. UVA and Tennessee’s out-of state is still higher than Carolina. The University of New Jersey at Durham is 12 miles away and charges even more as a premier educational university.
Greg LeNeave ’79
I am a native of North Carolina as is my wife. My three children were born and raised there also. My daughter, Patricia Sale ’78 and her daughter, Samantha Sale, is a freshman there now. My company transferred us to Georgia. We are out-of-staters only because of circumstances. I do not think we should be penalized with this increase in tuition and I believe children of alumni, if qualified and accepted for admission, should be given the same entrance status as other native North Carolinians. I have paid my taxes in Union County for over 65 years and continue to this day. I realize this protest is an exercise in futility but I just wanted you to know.
R. Tillman Austin ’42
As a NC citizen, I have no reservations about charging out-of-state students more. It is a hard business to maintain a balance between asking the Legislature for more money and raising some of your own in order to retain excellence. I do not believe this increase will reduce out-of-state applications at all.
Thomas Yost ’59
I can see that a state school must have space for its residents, but to sacrifice diversity in the student body may be denying them a needed broadening school experience. Many colleges encourage international and distant U.S. applicants with scholarships, which might solve the dilemma.
Lalage Oates Warrington ’52
As an out-of-state student when I attended UNC, I knew the difficulties of paying the higher tuition rates. Now it appears that UNC is going to continue to make it that much more difficult for an out-of-state student to afford a UNC education. I am sad to think that my children and I will be faced with the decision of whether to pay such an enormous differential ($50,000+) for a 4 year UNC degree. I would encourage the Board to at least consider entering into regional sharing pacts where SC residents and NC residents (and possibly other states) could each attend each other’s state schools at in-state (or at least mutually reduced) rates.
Calhoun Thomas ’79
I do NOT agree that the school should punish out-of-state students by raising tuition. I was an out-of-state student and there was a tuition increase just a couple years ago. It also keeps students from being able to attend school at UNC. I also feel that it also makes students have to take out more loans causing them to enter the working world with more and more debt. We as alumni should WANT to help all students out by giving them all the opportunities possible to attend such a great university. I am very blessed to have been able to attend UNC and wouldn’t have been able to go to school there if the tuition is what it could be with this increase.
Heather Crompton ’02
UNC seems committed to eliminate an important part of the college experience of learning from students from different backgrounds. In our modern world, such experiences are more important than ever. Pricing UNC so that it is no longer a realistic option for out-of-state students takes away from the college experience instead of adding to it! It also decreases the incentive of graduates living out of state to financially support the school.
Wade Douglas Childs ’70
The University community must recognize that out-of-state students, too, are drawn to Chapel Hill because UNC is one of the best values in higher education. Lose this competitive pricing advantage for non-residents – while not compensating students with improved facilities, smaller classes, and better professors – and UNC will lose many of the students who constitute the school’s academic driving force. If Carolina truly hopes to attain its institutional goal of being the premier public university in the nation, it must begin to welcome more diverse and talented out-of-state students, in number and through a balanced tuition structure.
Or, approach the dilemma this way: would you pay $25,000 total for your child to live in dilapidated Hinton James and to sleep through 400+ person lectures in Hamilton 100, or $25,000 to have personalized teacher attention and access to the beautiful facilities at Wake or Duke? Taking the consumer-oriented approach higher education has taken on these days, the choice is clear.
I’m a Tar Heel through and through, but it’s time for my current in-state counterparts to begin paying their fair share.
Thomas Maloney ’01
I feel that such a huge increase in tuition for out of state students ($1,500 per year) is totally out of line and, in fact, smacks of an arrogance by my alma mater. Modest increases, OK, but a yearly increase of this amount feels more like a rip-off to me.
What happens to the out-of-state student of modest means, already enrolled at UNC, when he/she is faced with an increase of this size? What does this do to the plans of a prospective out-of-state student of modest means? Have we forgotten what it means to bill ourselves as “The People’s University”?
As a graduate and a loyal supporter of UNC, both financially and spiritually, for many years, I feel UNC should continue and strengthen its emphasis on recruiting outstanding out of state students, rather than adopting what resonates as a “stick it to them” policy of huge tuition increases.
I know our school is terribly short of funding and that this probably plays a large role in the approval of this huge tuition increase. It’s a problem in my state (South Carolina) as well. Maybe we should all start having second thoughts when the politicians promise us practically unlimited tax cuts followed, it seems, by perpetual and ever increasing budget shortfalls and, of course, the ensuing severe cuts in the budget for higher education.
It recently came to the point here in the fair Palmetto State where our governor proposed, seriously but unsuccessfully, turning Clemson University into a private university. That way, of course, the state wouldn’t have had to make any contribution at all to Clemson’s budget. Oh well, enough said . . .
Jerry M. Whitmire ’63
I am all for keeping tuition as low as possible for in-state students, but requiring out-of-state students to pay more than the actual cost of educating them hardly seems just.
Janet Olson Roberts ’86