UNC president says tuition increases will be limited

Posted January 12, 2012

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— University of North Carolina President Tom Ross said Thursday that tuition increases at the system's 16 university campuses will be less than 10 percent, far below what some campuses have requested.

Ross said he would forward his formal recommendations to the UNC Board of Governors in a few weeks. The board is expected to begin voting on proposed tuition increases next month.

UNC-Chapel Hill has proposed raising tuition by 40 percent over the next five years, while North Carolina State University wants to increase tuition and fees by 10.4 percent next year and more in subsequent years. East Carolina University, North Carolina Central University and other campuses are also seeking increases in excess of a 6.5 percent cap put in place several years ago.

Officials at the various schools say they need the added tuition revenue to make up for deep cuts in state funding in recent years, which have forced them to cut staff and programs.

Ross said he also would limit campuses to two-year increases instead of the five-year programs some have requested.

"It is about a balance between low tuition and high quality, maintaining excellence,” he said.

The tuition proposals have prompted a backlash from longtime UNC President Bill Friday and at least 20 former members of the Board of Governors. The group signed a three-page statement urging the current board to reject the hefty increases.

They cited the state constitution, which calls for keeping tuition as low as possible so the cost of higher education doesn't prevent people from pursuing a degree.

Friday noted that UNC campuses requested a tuition increase only once during his 30 years as president, and he said schools should make the necessary cuts to staff and programs to avoid having to raise tuition.

UNC President Tom Ross UNC campuses need to balance quality, affordability, president says

Ross said he respects the former board members' position, but he said the UNC system cannot afford to sacrifice the quality of education its campuses provide.

"They care deeply about the university, and I think what their letter says is, 'We don’t want you to go over the 6.5 percent cap.' They’d prefer that they not increase tuition at all, but I think that they understand that it may be necessary," he said.

He said the UNC system also needs to focus on cutting inefficiencies, raising private money and working with lawmakers for state funding.

N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson said his administrators have been forced to hire temporary faculty to handle growing enrollment and to fill the gaps for professors who have been hired away by other universities.

"We are losing the capacity to be the world-class scholars and innovators that this state has demanded of us," Woodson told the Board of Governors. "This (proposed increase) is not putting on the backs of students the cost of higher education. We would still have one of the lowest student-based investment systems in the country.”

Chancellor Anne Ponder of UNC-Asheville agreed, telling the board that raising tuition "is critical to serve our students and fulfill our mission."

UNC-Asheville proposed the largest increase for 2012-13 at 13.5 percent. Other campuses that proposed increases of larger than 10 percent included UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, UNC-Wilmington and Winston-Salem State University.

Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the Board of Governors, said she hopes Ross can forge a compromise that will provide campuses with needed funds without taking too much of a financial bite out of current and prospective students and their families.

"Tuition is always difficult, and it should be. It should not be easy to raise tuition,” Gage said.

A number of students attended the board meeting to protest the tuition proposals, and some said they were glad that Ross planned to keep the increases below 10 percent.

"We were pleasantly surprised. We thought it would be more along the lines of 20 percent,” said Vera Parra, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.


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  • Crumps Br0ther Jan 13, 2012

    Tuition hike? Must be to cover the illegals who get to pay in state prices.

  • hussie42000 Jan 12, 2012

    "N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson said his administrators have been forced to hire temporary faculty to handle growing enrollment and to fill the gaps for professors who have been hired away by other universities."

    I am just an engineering major who has only taken one economics class but last I heard - increased enrollment = more revenue & temporary(new - less seniority)professors vs. departing professors = lower labor costs. I think the university system needs to take a hard look at some of their overhead and ask if it is really justified and returning any value. The first area would be administration. We don't need administrative overhead to be "world class" scholars & innovators. I think they would find innovative ways to keep tuition increases to a minimal.

  • carrboroyouth Jan 12, 2012

    I hope Mr. Friday and the school president get through to these board members. The students protested and they just covered their ears.

    I do not understand why UNC does not dip into their billion dollar endowment fund. It's a BILLION dollars. Why not take a little bit out to ease these financial strains?

    My folks worked very hard putting money away for college, but with each increase it gets more difficult, especially for the middle class non-minorities. Textbooks, meals, and housing aren't getting any cheaper, either.

  • ncmike Jan 12, 2012

    "higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense"

    Hasn't anyone yet filed a lawsuit to challenge the state to prove their cuts are really due to unpracticable circumstances?

  • kmanc4s Jan 12, 2012

    Every few months the UNC System has been implementing a new tuition hike. There will come a point when enrollment will drop due to high tuition. It may come sooner than most realize when the student loan bubble bursts and the money for paying tuition becomes impossible to get.

  • issymayake Jan 12, 2012

    Where are these free rides? Scholarships are earned. Loans have to be repaid. The state subsidizes the cost of higher education in this state, but all NC citizens have access to public colleges; so no one is receiving a free ride or a benefit.


    Is that professor a Full Professor? Does she have research grants supporting her salary? Is she published? Does she give speeches? Does she consult? Is she considered an expert or distinguished in her discipline? If so, she probably has twenty years or more in her field, plus research, plus a PhD. They are probably underpaying her at $110,000.

  • jason19 Jan 12, 2012

    You mean to tell me that state budget cuts *do* have consequences? Imagine that. You don't have anybody to blame but yourself though, students. You decided the last election for the General Assembly members was not important enough for you to vote in, so this is what happened.

  • boneymaroney13 Jan 12, 2012

    If "YOU" don't want to pay to go to school here, go somewhere else. I paid for my tuition, you pay for your's. The free ride needs to end somewhere.

  • blisstate Jan 12, 2012

    North Carolina constitution:
    Sec. 9. Benefits of public institutions of higher education.
    The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.

  • lucasd06 Jan 12, 2012

    AMEN luv2camp. I'm only 22, but I'm married and before we have kids I'm going to be setting up an NC 403b to save for my kids' tuition. Not to mention work on paying off my own student debt. It's MY responsibility.