Board of Governors examines tuition changes, budget priorities

Jan. 09, 2014 @ 09:56 PM

The UNC system Board of Governors raised concerns Thursday that N.C. General Assembly-mandated tuition increases for the upcoming school year are affecting college affordability for low-income families.

Last year, the state legislature applied different tuition percentage increases to each university, pinpointed at out-of-state undergraduates. Two universities, N.C. State and UNC-Charlotte, got no increase.

As discussed in fall Board of Governors meetings, N.C. Central University’s out-of-state undergrads will face a 6-percent increase in 2014-15, or $842, in tuition, and UNC-Chapel Hill’s out-of-state undergrads will be allocated a 12.3-percent increase, or have to pay $3,469 more.

Undergraduate residents in the UNC system will see no tuition rate hike for the 2014-15 year.

The system-wide tuition increases are expected to generate an estimated $29.5 million in revenue, but board members worried that most of this money would go back to the state, rather than the universities themselves to funnel back into academic programs and financial aid.

Board member John Fennebresque said if the UNC system can’t fight to keep tuition costs low, families are “taking on debt that’s killing them,” he said.

In the UNC system’s budget priorities for 2014-15, the board hopes to push for a repeal of the nonresident tuition increase and maintain the Board of Governors’ oversight of setting tuition rates.

UNC-Chapel Hill also is expected to raise their general fees by $10.86, a .7-percent increase for the upcoming school year. That includes $7 for student health services and $3.86 for student activities, which provides funding for nonacademic student services and facility maintenance and operation.

NCCU is planning no fee increases for 2014-15.

In other budget news, the UNC Board of Governors discussed allocating $5 million for summer school enrollment, which would support students enrolling in summer term courses and therefore increase UNC graduation rates. UNC also is preparing to offer resident tuition rates to about 600 nonresident veteran UNC students, impacting the system’s tuition revenue by $8 million.

The board also is looking to set aside $3 million for faculty recruitment and retention. Board member Fennebresque said UNC is losing faculty at an alarming rate to other systems.

“When you go and try to replace somebody, it’s really expensive,” he said, “and sometimes you don’t find the right person when you try to replace them.”