CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Friday passed President Tom Ross' recommended tuition hike plan that will raise fees by an average of 8.8 percent on UNC system campuses for the 2012-13 school year.
The recommended plan will now go before state lawmakers for final approval. If adopted, tuition and fees will increase by more than $400 on average for the 16 UNC system campuses.
Some board members said they were not happy that campuses must put aside 25 percent of tuition increases for financial aid. They said that amounted to students paying for other students and that those costs should be covered by the legislature.
A motion was presented to cap how much of the increases campuses can use for financial aid, but the motion failed, with some members saying they wanted more time to study the issue.
About 75 students protested both inside the BOG meeting and in the lobby of the UNC General Administration Building Friday while board members considered the increases. They chanted things such as, "Who's university? Our university," and "Your tuition hikes will shackle students with years of debt."
"We are going to Raleigh. They will hear us there," said UNC student Sean Langberg.
Authorities arrested Robert Andrew Payne, 33, of Raleigh, after he left the meeting and tried to come back in. He was charged him with second-degree trespassing and resisting, obstructing and delaying, which are both misdemeanors. UNC said Payne is not currently a student at the school.
Ross said, despite the disruptions in the meeting, he didn't see anything inappropriate about the way students protested.
"Our decision was to let them be heard. I think students are passionate about this issue, and it definitely impacts their lives," Ross said.
UNC-Asheville student Kaley Fry said her parents don't have a lot of money and it's important that tuition doesn't go up, "not only for me, but for my friends and family," she said.
After meeting in the Pit on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus at about 8 a.m., the students marched to the administration building ahead of the meeting. A few of the protesters were allowed inside the meeting, but most were kept in the lobby and allowed to watch the discussion on a monitor.
The Association of Student Governments, a group comprised of the student body presidents from each school, said it supports students expressing their views on the proposed increases. The ASG endorsed the proposed hike plan Thursday.
North Carolina State University student organizer Bryan Perlmutter says more increases will close the doors of higher education to many students.
Ross said Thursday that the UNC BOG struggled with the idea of raising fees.
The cost increases Ross recommended are well below what some campus leaders said they needed and will make up just 17 percent of the $414 million cut by state legislators last year.
The budget cut forced the 16 university campuses and the School of Science and Math in Durham to drop more than 3,000 employees, cut library hours at Appalachian State University and UNC-Wilmington and prevent hundreds of North Carolina Central University students from enrolling in general education math courses, according to a UNC system report.