Ross Recommends Reduction In Carolina Tuition Request

Carolina will get a 9.9 percent tuition increase for next year — not the 11.4 percent hike it wanted — if the UNC System Board of Governors follows the recommendation of President Thomas Ross ’75 (JD).

Carolina is asking for $800 more in tuition for in-state undergraduates for 2012-13 — an 11.1 percent increase in tuition (when fees are added), from $7,008 per year to $7,788. Tuition and fees would total $27,505 for out-of-state residents under a requested 6.5 percent increase.

Under Ross’ recommendation UNC’s in-state tuition would go up by $690. The BOG is expected to take up the proposal in February.

Carolina’s first priority with any additional tuition money is to restore class sections lost to the budget cuts. UNC saw relatively little impact from the reduction in sections last fall, but that may take a bigger hit this spring.

“We’ll be able to do less of what we had hoped to try to correct the problems, but we’ll still be able to do some of it,” Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 said.

The in-state undergraduate average across the state’s 16 universities would be 8.8 percent, then 4.2 percent for 2013-14. No campus would get more than 9.9 percent for next year. Seven of the campuses would get less than requested.

“I believe that these recommendations balance the campuses’ demonstrated need for increased resources with the limited ability of many students and families to sustain further tuition increases in this tough economy,” Ross said in a memo to the BOG.

UNC’s request is part of a proposal to add $2,800 to the bills of N.C. resident undergraduates incrementally over the next five years — a 55 percent increase from the current annual rate. That request was based on leeway Carolina officials believe they have because the University now is such a bargain compared with its peers. Other schools in the UNC System also have proposed five-year plans. But Ross said he would not entertain five-year plans at this time.

The BOG invited the state’s campuses “with significant unfunded needs” to make a case for a one-time exception that would exceed the annual cap. In an October letter, the BOG said it would consider comparisons with peer universities in determining whether to allow a campus the one-time adjustment.

The 16 schools have lost $482 million in permanent cuts in state revenue over the past four years, when funding increases for enrollment growth are factored in. Carolina lost about $100 million to the cuts last year alone.

Thorp and Provost Bruce Carney have said repeatedly that they believe UNC’s status as a bargain relative to its peers gives it significant leeway to use a tuition increase to offset some of the state funding cuts. UNC is regarded as the best value among 10 peers. The BOG was told this week that its campuses are meeting its requirement to remain in the bottom quartile for tuition among their peers.

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