Tuition Up for Nonresidents; N.C. Students Get a Break

In-state undergraduates are getting a break from tuition increase next year, while out-of-state undergraduates and graduate students both will see their costs go up. Nonresident undergraduate tuition now will top the $20,000-a-year mark. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the chancellor’s tuition and fee recommendations on Nov. 15, about two months ahead of when the board usually decides tuition rates.

Resident tuition and fees will remain at $5,340 a year, due to a new policy of the UNC System Board of Governors tying resident increases to state appropriations for UNC System campuses. Carolina’s recent appropriations increase of 14.7 percent makes it ineligible to raise in-state tuition. Including a $57 increase in fees, the in-state undergraduate total is $5,397.

Nonresident undergraduates will pay $1,250 more in 2008-09, or $20,603. The fee increase brings the total to $22,295. Graduate student tuition will go up $400 for residents and $800 for nonresidents.

The board did not decide how the increases would be allocated. Chancellor James Moeser recommended the money go to faculty salaries, student advising and cutting the student-to-faculty ratio. The board asked the administration for more information before ruling on allocation. The increases are expected to bring in $3.6 million in additional revenue from undergraduates and $4.6 million more from graduate students.

“My own starting point with this issue is a firm belief that our out-of-state students must continue to pay the full costs of their education and make an appropriate contribution to the University’s overall goal of excellence,” Moeser wrote in a memo explaining his rationale. “Another consideration should be where we fall in the competitive market for tuition rates charged by our peers.”

The campus tuition advisory task force, the first body to make recommendations in the yearly tuition and fee increase process, suggested tuition increases in ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 for out-of-state undergraduates, $800 to $1,500 for graduate students and no increase for resident undergraduates.

There was a sprinkling of students at the Nov. 15 meeting, and one student, junior Brock Baker from Nashville, Tenn., was dressed as a cow with a sign that read “Eat fewer out-of-staters.” Several students read prepared remarks advocating for greater tuition predictability for out-of-state students, while others expressed their concern for the impact on middle-income students.

“The fact remains that tuition for college students is an ever-increasing strain,” said Student Body President Eve Carson. As co-chair of the campus tuition task force, she had said the ranges the task force came up with looked “very steep.” She supported making the exact uses of the tuition increases transparent and working harder to make tuition more predictable for out-of-state students. The task force recommended that parents and students be informed in their admissions packets that tuition and fees increases should be expected.

“I recognize that increases are appropriate for the institution, but I’m also concerned about students who came to Carolina based on one expectation about what the tuition would be,” Carson said.

Trustee John Ellison ’69 said the increases are necessary for keeping the University in line with its academic goals and to make it competitive with its peer institutions.

“It’s not that we meant to increase tuition as much as inflation or less than inflation,” he said. “Inflation isn’t defined as the consumer price index. It’s defined as what other schools are doing.”

Carolina consistently is rated one of the best bargains in American public higher education. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine has ranked UNC first in academic quality at an affordable cost for five straight years.

Before the November action, tuition had been raised five of the six previous years.

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