The UNC System Board of Governors faced down dozens of student protesters and approved tuition increases of $250 for Carolina’s in-state residents and $1,500 for out-of-staters for the 2004-05 school year.
That is $50 less than Carolina officials requested for residents, but the BOG granted the full request for the big jump in non-resident tuition at it March 19 meeting. With a $116 fee increase for all undergraduates, the price of a year at Carolina will be $4,360 for North Carolinians and $17,458 for those from out of state. The former is a 9 percent increase, the latter 10 percent.
The board directed that the additional tuition be used primarily to cut class size and increase the number of sections offered in courses. But it also said chancellors could use the money to enhance the competitiveness of faculty salaries. At Carolina, the first priority in its tuition hike request was salaries. All the schools will set aside about 40 percent of the revenues from the increase for need-based financial aid, a fairly standard practice.
The BOG approved an amendment to urge the state legislature to match the amount of the increases, and that if this occurred, to roll back the increases in amounts equal to that funding.
Board members’ comments indicated their concern about cost was overridden by the fear that the quality of education in UNC System schools could be slipping behind that of their peers.
Two members referred to comments BOG Chair Brad Wilson of Durham made in February when he said that while he was concerned about the rising cost, “I am equally convinced that low tuition without high quality is no bargain.”
“The funds are critically needed at each campus that seeks them,” said board member Ray Farris ’62 of Charlotte. John Davis of Winston-Salem added, “As much as I hate it, we’ve got to increase tuition.”
Students from several system schools, some of whom had come on buses from Appalachian State and East Carolina, greeted board members and other university officials as they entered the meeting. The students held signs and banners decrying the increase, and packed the meeting hall, but remained quiet throughout the meeting.
Jonathan Ducote, the non-voting student member of the board, introduced two amendments-to cut the in-state hike for all the schools by $25 and to spread Carolina’s out-of-state increase over two years-but neither was accepted. Ducote, an N.C. State student, said he was hearing from middle class students caught between ineligibility for financial aid and their families’ inability to afford the cost. While he said students from low income families might be covered by aid, “in the middle class we’re beginning to see a real problem with affordability.”
A driving factor in the Carolina trustees’ decision to ask for the increase 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 College of Arts and Sciences has seen a drop in its ability to fend off raids on faculty, from a 60 percent retention rate to the 40 percent last year.
As for the unprecedented increase for out-of-state students, in late January the nonresident tuition and fees were determined to be about $3,500 short of putting UNC in the 75th percentile in out-of-state tuition among 10 of its peer universities. That figure already has changed, and Carolina officials expect it will continue to change as the other schools continue to raise tuition.
The University’s Faculty Council opposed 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, but did not discuss a differential for nonresidents.
Carolina’s tuition also will rise in 23 undergraduate and graduate programs in the University’s professional schools as a result of the BOG’s action.
Since 2000, when campus-based increases first were allowed in addition to BOG-mandated and legislative hikes, undergraduate tuition at Carolina has risen 47 percent, 33 percent for those from out of state. The three most recent campus-based increases have been $300 for everyone. That meant, percentage-wise, a much bigger hike for in-staters. The BOG declined this time to add an across-the-board hike to the campus-initiated ones.
The board approved the $250 in-state increase for UNC and N.C. State University students, and $225 for all other system schools except the N.C. School of the Arts, whose tuition went up $450. Carolina is the only school that asked a differential for in-state and out-of-state students.