Tuition Goes Up $750 as UNC Faces State Cuts

The University has tacked on another $750 annual tuition increase, effective this fall, in an effort to keep academic programs viable in the face of a reduction in state funding of about 5 percent.

This comes on top of increases approved in February by the UNC System Board of Governors. With that action, the BOG voted to raise tuition for undergraduate residents by $200 a year and fees for all undergraduates by $96 a year. With the additional increase, annual tuition and fees for the coming year will be $6,665 for in-state undergraduates and $25,280 for out-of-state undergraduates.

The N.C. General Assembly gave its blessing to UNC System President Erskine Bowles ’67 to authorize an additional tuition increase to try to hold off more drastic budget cutting, including layoffs, at some of the UNC System campuses.

N.C. State University also is increasing tuition by $750.

The $19 billion state budget signed in June holds no state-supported salary increases for faculty and staff for the second straight year. Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 said he was feeling compassion for employees weathering both that and increases in state health plan costs.

In a message to the campus community two weeks ago, Thorp wrote: “Starting last December, we began planning for additional cuts in state funding. I asked our vice chancellors and deans to develop proposals that assumed new cuts at the 5 percent level as well as continued declines in funding from endowment earnings. I believe that work, and the difficult decisions associated with it, have put the University in a good position. Cuts to the UNC System for the 2010-2011 fiscal year will include a $70 million reduction in the operating budget, and although we don’t know exactly what that will mean for our campus, we don’t think the cuts will dramatically exceed the 5 percent level we anticipated.”

At that time, referring to the prospect of another $750 tuition hike, Thorp told The News & Observer of Raleigh, “We’re hesitant to do it. But given where Carolina stands, with our tuition as low as it is compared to our peers, and the struggle we’re in to preserve what we have, it may be the best of the options available to us.”

Carolina’s current challenges include keeping enough class sections open for students’ needs, staving off faculty raids and continuing to bring in top junior faculty, Thorp said.

UNC’s tuition has increased in four of the past six years.

Also under the new budget, out-of-state athletes no longer will benefit from a 5-year-old exemption from the higher nonresident tuition rates; for those whose college costs are paid with athletic scholarships, more money will have to come from booster clubs and other private sources.

The exemption was preserved for those on academic scholarships, allowing the Morehead-Cain and Robertson Scholarship programs to continue to compete nationally for top scholars. Nine of the past 10 Rhodes Scholarship winners from UNC were Morehead-Cain scholars from outside North Carolina.

To illustrate the impact of the exemption, the 64 new scholars Morehead-Cain expects to enroll this fall would have to have been dropped to 46 if the exemption had been removed.

The state budget also eliminated a House-backed initiative to put an enrollment limit on UNC System schools.

The General Assembly also committed to fund need-based financial aid for the state’s students and restored funding that had been in doubt for the operation of many new buildings on the campuses.

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