Chapel Hill, N.C. — Dozens of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students on Wednesday protested a proposed tuition increase at the school.
The UNC Board of Governors is expected to vote on tuition proposals next week for the system's 16 university campuses.
UNC President Tom Ross has recommended limiting increases to an average of 8.8 percent for 2012-13 and 4.2 percent in 2013-14. Together, they would add more than $700 to the annual bill of an average in-state undergraduate.
Some campuses had requested much larger increases, such as a five-year plan at UNC-Chapel Hill that would have raised tuition by 40 percent. Administrators said they need the revenue to offset deep cuts in state funding in recent years.
"Budget cuts are falling on the backs of students," said Amanda Ellis, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. "We're going to be the leaders of this country, and if we don't have access to proper education, there's no way we can do that."
Representatives of the state chapter of the NAACP joined students in calling on the Board of Governors to reject the tuition proposals and seek more support from state lawmakers.
"The more the UNC system fails to stand up to such shameful cuts to education and such a shameful elimination of educational grants and financial aid, the more the system punishes its students," Curtis Gatewood of the NAACP said.
Ross has said his tuition recommendations would generate $70 million in total revenue for the campuses, which would make up about 17 percent of last year's state cuts.
Students from several UNC campuses are expected to rally at the Feb. 10 Board of Governors meeting in a show of force against the tuition proposals.
"We are challenging the university to find other ways to (raise revenue) that don't disenfranchise students, that don't limit diversity (and) that don't prevent quality education," Ellis said.