State News

UNC-CH students protest tuition increase plan

Posted November 16, 2011

— Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill angrily protested Wednesday as officials started in motion a plan to raise in-state tuition by 40 percent over the next five years.

As a committee of the Board of Trustees approved an increase recommended by a special tuition task force, students started shouting down the move. At one point, they referred to the trustees as "mostly wealthy white people."

Students with the "Strike the Hikes" coalition gathered at the Pit outside of the student union and marched to the committee meeting at the Carolina Inn, where they delivered postcards signed by 1,000 students in opposition to the tuition increase.

"We don’t want to see Carolina become something like Duke (University)," student Steve Milder told the committee after presenting the postcards. "They are doing great with that in Durham, but we are something different here.”

Under the plan that the full Board of Trustees are expected to vote on Thursday, tuition for in-state undergraduates would go up by $800 in 2012-13 and at least $583 a year over the following four years.

The UNC Board of Governors implemented a 6.5 percent cap on tuition increases across the university system several years ago, but the cap allowed campuses to impose a one-time increase beyond the cap to "catch up" to tuition levels at competing schools nationwide.

The proposed tuition for next year includes a 6.5 percent increase, plus $467 of the $2,800 that officials say will put UNC-Chapel Hill in line with other universities.

Cuts to state funding have trimmed UNC-Chapel Hill's budget by $231 million in recent years, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Richard Mann said. Hundreds of staff positions have been eliminated, and faculty and staff have gone three years without a salary increase, he said.

UNC tuition protest UNC-CH pushing ahead with large tuition increase

"The university is really in a very stressful situation," Mann told trustees.

Provost Bruce Carney said those cuts have started eroding the quality of education at the university, noting fewer courses are being offered and classes are larger. Raising tuition will allow the university to reverse those issues and help retain its best professors, he said.

"I hope in the near future (that) the state will step up," Carney said. "I don’t see it being this year or next."

Students for a Democratic Society organized the protest coalition, saying the university should dip into its $2.2 billion endowment before forcing students to make up for state budget cuts. They say they are graduating with too much debt or are being forced to stop their education altogether because of rising costs.

"These tuition hikes are only going to make that number of students locked out go up," senior Lauren Hollowell said. "It’s not fair. It shouldn’t happen. Education is a right that we are all entitled to.”

UNC officials said they cannot tap the endowment because much of that money was donated for specific uses, such as $761 million for scholarships and other financial aid. They also noted that 45 percent of the tuition increase will be set aside for need-based financial aid.

”If it’s expensive to pay tuition, I want people to keep in mind, too, (that) it’s also expensive to spend another semester here to try and finish your degree,” Carney told the students.

Any tuition increase would need to be approved by the Board of Trustees, the UNC Board of Governors and state lawmakers before taking effect.

184 Comments

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  • edahan Nov 17, 5:26 p.m.

    The UNC system is overly dependent upon funding from Raleigh. Raleigh dictates that an extremely high percentage of students at UNC schools come from North Carolina.

    Either you start weening yourself off of the government trough or you start taking in a higher percentage of out-of-state and international students.

    Can't have it both ways

  • rogerwx Nov 17, 3:46 p.m.

    The most ridiculous displays of the lack of knowledge were the signs which read"Education is a right". Education is a privilege,, most definitely not a "right". Those fools need to go occupy Wall St. with rest of the dumbmasses. Would they like for the system to further cut back offerings and increase class sizes? I worked year round to pay my way through. I am a better person for it!

  • Caroline Marie Nov 17, 1:46 p.m.

    Thanks Board of Trustees, my child has worked her behind off for 13 years (including kindergarten), #2 student in her class with great SAT scores, volunteer work, etc. Already been accepted at a private college but financially we want to consider a public college. She's white, so there aren't any minority scholarships geared to her. We work hard and fall in that crack between making too much money for financial aid and not enough to pay out of pockets so we will be in debt forever as it with loans. So at this point, with the large scholarship offer from the private school, we will probably have to pay more to send her to one of the UNC system schools. So while my tax money helps other people through college, I will have to pay for my child to go to a private school. If the government would quit financing all these grants that let people just get "free" money by showing up half a semester, it would help.

  • brentf777 Nov 17, 1:15 p.m.

    These lefty protesters make me sick to my stomach. It's no wonder the late Jesse Helms stated the C in UNC stood for "Communists". "Education is a right"? What ever gave them that bone-headed idea? No, education is a privilege. True rights, Natural Rights, don't require the coerced action of any individual. To imply you have a right to an education implies you have the right to make someone more knowledgeable educate you. It violates the voluntarist principal that is key to a free society. And "mostly wealthy white people"? That's a racist statement if I ever heard one from the "tolerance and diversity" crowd. Still, it does seem UNC could potentially avoid these increases if they took money from the sports budget and put it toward education, not that you can get much of an education from the lefist profs who run most departments at UNC... The children are just a product of their professors liberal indoctrination. The chickens are coming home to roost.

  • mustainemad Nov 17, 11:11 a.m.

    Here's a novel idea--take all the sports money that is sitting in banks drawing interest from all the fat-cat donors to get their names on scoreboards and buildings and put it towards what colleges are supposed to be about--EDUCATION!!!!!

  • citizensoldier16 Nov 17, 11:02 a.m.

    Seems to me the leftists are protesting the very change they voted for. They protest tuition increases, yet they want to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition. They protest internet charge, but back the government in spying on internet usage. You can't have it both ways...it's time to choose: freedom or tyranny?

  • Objective Scientist Nov 17, 10:52 a.m.

    A true conundrum... the issue of tuition increases! The state of NC - as is everyone - suffers from reduced revenue from taxes leading to reduced money appropriated to UNC system universities. The universities - after reducing everything possible to stay within their "budget" - is faced with cutting into the "core educational mission" and therefore diminishing many things that have made the university and its reputation for quality what they now are. The university is between that "proverbial" rock and a hard-place... raise tuition or see the quality/reputation of a university that was built over decades or longer go downhill. As I said... a true conundrum. I see the need for tuition to increase, but I am very thankful I do not have a son or daughter in college today with the significant tuition increases in recent years. But to North Carolinian's... how valuable is the "reputation" of our leading universities to you and the state of NC?

  • beaupeep Nov 17, 10:02 a.m.

    "And if I don't like to weld, get sea-sick, or am scared of heights?"

    Electricians and plumbers do quite nicely too. I bet they beat the salaries of art and poly-sci majors.

    It's a fine argument. If you don't like student loan debt, don't apply for student loans. There ARE opportunities that don't require college and there are ways to go to college without loans.

  • Dat MoFo Nov 17, 9:41 a.m.

    "Part of the problem is all the "other" classes one has to take at a university that have NO bearing on the major that student is in. Gym? Who the heck needs gym at the university level? I was an art major and found the math classes I had to take a waste of my time and effort- not to mention money I had to pay to take those classes I didn't need. Streamline college to get people out in the real world that know a skill- not a little bit about a whole lot of nothing."

    We do have a system that does that. It's called the community college system.

  • braddavis Nov 17, 9:11 a.m.

    Don't whine about your student loans. You could have gone to a community college for a semester and learned how to weld. At 19 you could have been making $100,000+ a year welding on sky scrapers and oil rigs around the World. Those darn C+ students who went to trade schools make more than you and your 4.0 and $150,000 of student loans.

    And if I don't like to weld, get sea-sick, or am scared of heights? Next time make sure your brains are loaded before you shoot your mouth off......ridiculous argument

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