McCrory’s tuition increase proposal cause for concern at UNC

Mar. 27, 2013 @ 06:34 PM

A proposal by Gov. Pat McCrory to increase tuition by 12.3 percent for out-of-state students has UNC officials worried.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp told the university’s Board of Trustees Wednesday that the university would “object as aggressively” as possible to the plan announced last week as part of McCrory’s proposed budget for the next biennium.

Traditionally, tuition increases are passed back to campuses to use as financial aid.

But under McCrory’s plan, receipts from the proposed tuition increases would be placed in the state’s General Fund.

“The tuition increase is disturbing because when we do a tuition increase we spend a lot of time thinking about the implications on financial aid and making sure we meet those,” Thorp said.

UNC is one of six schools that would be asked to hit out-of-state students with the double-digit tuition increase that would come on top of increases already approved by the UNC Board of Governors. McCrory’s proposed tuition increases would presumably raise about $54 million.

The other five schools are  UNC School of the Arts, N.C. A&T, N.C. State, UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington.

Jennifer Willis, UNC’s director of state relations, said the six schools were chosen for the 12.3 percent increase because their tuition rates for out-of-state students are lower than most of their peers.

“There is concern about our ability to actually collect those receipts if this tuition increase does go into effect, whether students who are making their decisions on where to attend college, would they change their mind if this tuition increase price Carolina out, particularly because we’re not going to have any offsetting funds for financial aid,” Willis said. 

All other campuses would hit out-of-state students with an additional 6 percent tuition increase.

Tuition rates for in-state students would not increase above those already approved by the UNC Board of Governors.

McCrory’s budget calls for trimming about $138 million from the UNC system’s budget, 5.4 percent of its $2.57 billion state allocation for the current fiscal year.

If that proposed 5.4 percent cut were passed on to the university, it would lose about $27.5 million.

The state Senate and state House will take up the budget next, with the Senate getting first crack next month. The state House’s budget process will run from mid-May until June.

Willis said the university will have opportunities to make its case before the General Assembly.

 “You can be sure senate leaders are hearing from folks inside the university system,” Willis said.