Ross: No tuition increases recommended for undergrads next year

Aug. 08, 2013 @ 05:29 PM

If UNC System President Tom Ross gets his way, undergraduate students won’t see a tuition increase at the system’s 16 universities.

Ross told members of the UNC Board of Governors on Thursday that he would not recommend tuition increases when the board and campuses discuss tuition later this year.

His comments come as the board prepares to work on a new four-year tuition plan and set tuition and fee guidelines for the 2014-15 academic year.

“I want to tell you that those guidelines will provide the campus not institute any undergraduate, resident tuition increase this year,” Ross said. “I think it’s time for us to step back and not increase tuition this year.”

Students attending the state universities have been hit with tuition increases two years in a row.

“We need time to absorb where we are and absorb the cuts that we’ve had and sort of see what comes out of that,” Ross said. “But also, frankly, we need to better understand the direction of the General Assembly, and understand where we’re going to be moving forward in terms of level of state support.”

Ross said he consulted with Board Chairman Peter Hans and he agrees that not increasing tuition for undergraduate in-state students is the right decision for students and parents.

Hans said the university system needs a broader conversation about tuition, access and affordability before approving additional tuition increases.

“I’m hopeful we can stabilize state funding and identify further efficiencies to fund our priorities rather than ask families to dig deeper,” Hans said.

Out-of-state students would still see tuition increases in 2014-15 under a mandate set forth by the General Assembly.

Four schools, including UNC Chapel Hill, must increases tuition for non-resident undergraduates by at least 12.3 percent.

Ten schools, including N.C. Central University, must increase tuition for out-of-state students by 6 percent for 2014-15.    

Board member Hannah Gage said holding the line on tuition for undergraduate resident students is the right move.

"It's the right time to hit the pause button, and I think it's really important that we get this out early so that the campuses can spend the next six months planning," said Gage, who previously served as the board’s chairwoman.

Resident students paid an average of 9 percent more in tuition the past academic year and will pay an average increase of 4 percent for the school year beginning this month.

The Board of Governors will make the final decision on whether campuses are allowed to increase tuition for next school year.