UNC system to look at lifting 18% cap on nonresident students

Jun. 13, 2013 @ 05:03 PM

The UNC system is on a talent hunt for the nation’s best and brightest students, and it’s a mission that has officials eyeing proposals to raise the system-wide 18 percent cap on out-of-state students.
The UNC Board of Governors received a report Thursday listing five options under which the system’s 16 universities could admit more out-of state students to quench the system’s thirst for a larger share of the nation’s top students.
That in turn could help push the system toward its recently set degree attainment goal. The board’s goal is for 32 percent of residents ages 25 to 64 to have degrees by 2018.
Under state law, out-of-state students are charged more to attend UNC system schools, but officials stressed that the additional revenue those students would bring is not a primary consideration.
“This is really about attracting talent to North Carolina potentially, rather than raising revenue,” said Peter Hans, chairman of the board.
Talk of lifting the cap in the past has been controversial with critics expressing concern about the loss of seats to North Carolina students.
But under all of the options presented Thursday, in-state students would be held harmless, meaning there would be no decrease in the percentage of first-time undergraduate in-state students admitted to those universities.
The board also learned Thursday that just about half of the out-of-state students who attend UNC system schools remain in the state after graduating.
It’s a statistic some members of the board, lawmakers and others have been pushing the administration to pin down, particularly in recent weeks and months as the topic of lifting the cap has been discussed.   
“Just about half of all UNC [system] nonresident students who have a bachelor’s degree that were part of the class ’04 through ’09, almost half of them are in North Carolina in some way or fashion three years after graduation,” said Charlie Perusse, the UNC system’s chief operating officer. 
Two of the five options presented by General Administration staffers are aimed specifically at strengthening the talent pool at the system’s five historically black universities and UNC Pembroke, which was founded as an institution for Native Americans.
Under one option, those schools would be allowed to lower out-of-state tuition but to no lower than 110 percent of the cost of education.
For N.C. Central University, for example, out-of-state tuition would go from $14,351 to $11,464 per semester if the board decided to adopt that option after further discussing the matter in the coming weeks.
Another option aimed at the system’s predominately black schools and Pembroke would involve raising the out-of-state admissions caps for those schools from 18 percent to 30 percent.
North Carolina A&T University exceeded the state cap by about 12 percent last school year when more than 30 percent of its freshmen came from out-of-state.
Universities that exceed the 18 percent cap two years in a row are penalized with budget cuts.
Five other universities – UNC Chapel Hill, N.C. State, East Carolina, UNC Asheville, and UNC Wilmington – are especially popular among out-of-state students and routinely bump up against the 18 percent cap.
The other three options presented Thursday would apply to all schools and they include adopting a system-wide cap based on system average, excluding international students from the out-of-state cap and lowering out-of-state tuition for students who live near the systems six campuses located near state lines.
Those campuses include Appalachian State, Elizabeth City State, UNC Asheville, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina.
The option calls for lowering tuition for those campuses located within 25 miles of the state border to as low as 110 percent of the cost of nonresidents located in counties within a 100-mile radius of a border campus.
Under that scenario, students in Tennessee and Georgia, for example, who live within a 100-mile radius of Western Carolina would pay, at 110 percent of cost for non residents, $11,898 in tuition and fees instead of the current cost of $13,266.
Ross said Tennessee already offers North Carolina students in-state tuition to attend its state schools.
“This is something that, at least Tennessee, does already with our state,” Ross said. “They’re taking people out of our state and I think even offering them in state tuition.”