State News

NC public universities eye tuition increases after one-year hiatus

Posted January 15, 2015

— North Carolina public universities want to raise annual tuition and fees by an average of 4 percent next year and 3.5 percent the following year for undergraduate state residents.

The governing board of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system on Thursday began discussing proposals by each school to raise the two basic costs of attendance. The UNC Board of Governors is expected to approve any increases next month.

"Unfortunately, costs go up, and we have stretched and stretched and stretched our campuses with cuts and cuts and cuts. So, unfortunately, the only way to go back and get it is through tuition," board member Harry Leo Smith Jr. said. "We're doing everything we can to contain costs."

The proposals come after the Board of Governors last year approved no tuition increase for the 2014-15 academic year. The one-year freeze came after UNC campuses had increased average tuition by 55 percent since 2007-08, before the national recession forced sharper cuts in taxpayer funding of the universities.

"Tuition is going to have to go up some just about every year," board member Scott Lampe said.

America's 700 public, four-year institutions raised tuition by 4 percent in 2013-14, to about $7,800 for in-state students, and by 3 percent, to about $17,500 for out-of-state students, according to U.S. Education Department data.

North Carolina's constitution requires that university education for state residents be as cheap as possible. The UNC system compares each campus' costs with similar schools around the country. Each North Carolina campus is among the cheapest, a report said.

The statewide average pales in importance to "where you're going to school and how much you're paying for your kid to go and what that money is being spent for. That's the story," board member Roger Aiken said.

The cost of attending Elizabeth City State University would be the system's lowest next year, at $4,657, despite a proposed $160 increase in tuition and fees. The costliest would be the North Carolina School of the Arts, at $8,500 after a $355 increase.

The state's largest campus, North Carolina State University, could see a $273 increase in tuition and fees, or 3.4 percent, to $8,407. UNC-Chapel Hill could charge an extra $227 in tuition and fees, almost 2.8 percent more, raising costs to $8,334.

East Carolina University, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Pembroke and Appalachian State University are seeking 5 percent tuition increases, the limit set by the Board of Governors.

Student fees paying for campus athletics, health services, student activities and technology rose about 4 percent this year after two years of 5 percent increases.

UNC-Chapel Hill junior Kacey Williams said she's not letting the extra costs bother her.

"For where I want to go in the future, the prices I pay now, even if they do continue to increase, will be well worth it," Williams said.

The proposed cost increases don't include a new, $30-a-year campus security fee that the UNC governors are projected to approve in February. The extra fee is needed to prepare school security officers to respond to extreme events, such as a campus shooting, and respond to federal regulations requiring more detailed investigations of alleged sexual assault cases, university system and board members said.

UNC-Chapel Hill is involved in a federal investigation into claims the school mishandled and underreported sexual assault cases.

"We are absolutely committed to campus security. How we fund it is what we're trying to figure out," Smith said.

Lampe said salaries for campus police aren't competitive with municipalities, which has led to high turnover.

"We need to get our police officers competitive in the marketplace," he said.

There were 222,000 students enrolled at UNC campuses last fall, an increase of 1,847 students from the previous fall.


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  • wlbbjb Jan 15, 2015

    "Because good coaches obtain good players, and people from all over will PAY top dollar to see those players, which generates millions in revenue for the colleges and increases overall enrollment because its cool. The focus on academics have shifted decades ago, where have you been?" So separate sports from academics. Most students are there to get an education not participate in sports. I promise money generated by sports events never go into academic programs. Sports in college should now be classified as semi-professional because of the money generated, get them off college campuses'.

  • John Weston Jan 15, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Great question. It it time for increases to be tied to the inflation rate. I read somewhere recently that college tuition has gone up by 10 times over the last twenty years. I can't think of anything else that we need that has gone up by that much. It is time to reign it in.

  • rmauney2000 Jan 15, 2015

    Why is the increases always higher than the rate of inflation? More competition is needed to the
    tax payer schools even at the college level. Maybe close unnecessary colleges and save some $$$. I know...I know...would be too political.

  • jimcricket15 Jan 15, 2015

    Well this is another case of operating a system as if it is the 16th century. Campuses do not need to exist. The tuition cost is not that bad really, but then you have fee after fee and room and board costs on top of the tuition. Then of course you get taught by TAs. The profs are busy getting published. I suppose someday education will move into the modern era. Until then enjoy being ripped off.

  • David McIntee Jan 15, 2015
    user avatar

    start to put some this money into your classrooms. this age of 5 years to get a 4 year degree is getting old.

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jan 15, 2015

    View quoted thread

    Because good coaches obtain good players, and people from all over will PAY top dollar to see those players, which generates millions in revenue for the colleges and increases overall enrollment because its cool. The focus on academics have shifted decades ago, where have you been?

  • no contest Jan 15, 2015

    How can they raise tuition when they have millions, if not BILLIONS, in endowments, investments or cash stashed away?!

    Change the rules that tie up the endowments, investments or cash and make college affordable.

    Universities continue to ask for more money when the universities have millions stashed away.

    Why stand there with your greedy hands out when you have millions in reserve?!

  • TimeWillTell Jan 15, 2015

    The answer is simple: tap into sports revenues, especially from UNC-CH and NCSU, and distribute to the entire UNC system. Also, place a 2% tax on tickets to any sporting or other event held at those schools' sports venues.

    The only mystery bigger to me than why universities haven't done this years ago is the wild-eyed mania for big-college sports and the utter lack of effort from academic administrators in ending revenue sports' tail-wags-dog grip on the schools. But if the sports programs are such hot commodities, at least the administrators could grow enough backbone to tap into the revenue for something useful, like keeping tuition and fees down.

  • Richard Eskridge Jan 15, 2015
    user avatar

    I am a student and the biggest issue isn't tuition, its the textbooks.Amen! The whole educational textbook market is a complete racket that costs students and taxpayers billions yearly. Taxpayers foot the bill for K-12 textbooks. However, I don't know if there is a solution.

  • cybertazet Jan 15, 2015

    I am a student and the biggest issue isn't tuition, its the textbooks. These books sometimes cost more than the class tuition itself. Every semester it seems that they change the book and sometimes I have had to purchase 2 or 3 books just for 1 class. I spent $300.00 on a book last semester. I don't get free hand outs like grants. I have to pay out of pocket for my education. I don't receive any loans or assistance. The cost of a higher education will eventually be out of reach for some people.