UNC system to take hit under McCrory’s budget proposal

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 10:39 AM

The UNC system would lose about $138 million in state funding next fiscal year under a budget proposal released by Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday.

UNC system President Tom Ross reacted with concern to the news, warning that a budget cut of that magnitude, amounting to a 5.4 percent reduction, would have grave consequences.

State appropriations for the system were $2.57 billion for the current fiscal year.

“I worry about the impact additional reductions will have on our ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to our residents and to assist in North Carolina’s economic recovery,” Ross said in a statement.

Ross added that the proposed cuts are particularly troubling in the wake of the more than $400 million in permanent budget reductions the system was forced to absorb two years ago.

McCrory’s budget calls for an additional cut of $102.5 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year, the equivalent of a 4 percent budget reduction.

That brings the total cuts proposed over the biennium to $241 million.

One highlight in the budget proposal for the UNC system is McCrory’s plan to spend $63 million over two years on the system’s Strategic Directions initiatives approved by the UNC Board of Governors last month.

“The governor's budget follows through on his commitment to promote enrollment in high-demand fields and align educational needs with the marketplace,”  the governor's office said in a news release on the budget.

In addition to setting a goal to achieve a 32 percent degree attainment among residents ages 18-64, the system’s five-year strategic plan seeks to make the state more competitive by better preparing students for jobs of today and tomorrow, making new targeted research investments in fields of strategic economic importance to the state, expanding online learning opportunities, improving access to military personnel and making focused investments in health outcomes for North Carolina citizens.

UNC would receive $19.5 million next fiscal year and $43.6 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year to fund the system’s strategic initiatives.

Maneuvering to increase revenue to offset the proposed spending cuts, McCrory has called for tuition increases for out-of-state students that would generate more than $63 million, conceivably reducing budget cuts to the system to about $72 million.

Under the plan, tuition for out-of-state students would increase by 12.3 percent at UNC School of the Arts, N.C. A&T, N.C. State, UNC, UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington.

That increase, which would presumably raise about $54 million, would be in addition to tuition increases already approved by the board for the upcoming academic year.

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.

Another $8.5 million would be raised through the repeal of a state law that allows out-of-state students on full scholarship to be charged in-state tuition rates.