Bowles: UNC campuses must fight to keep tuition money

Posted October 7, 2010 5:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2010 6:52 p.m. EDT

— University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles said Thursday that leaders of the system's 16 university campuses should be prepared to fight to keep tuition money in the coming year.

Fiscal analysts have projected a $3 billion to $3.5 billion state budget deficit for fiscal 2011-12, which starts next July. Gov. Beverly Perdue has already asked state agencies to outline spending cuts of up to 15 percent in their budgets, and Bowles asked chancellors Thursday to prepare to cut 10 percent from each university's budget.

UNC system rules currently prohibit a campus from raising tuition more than 6.5 percent a year. The Board of Governors is reviewing that policy, but members said Thursday that they are inclined to maintain that cap.

Bowles, who retires at the end of the year, has long been committed to keeping tuition low, and he has said he believes it shouldn't be the primary source of revenue for campuses.

He said campuses need to take a firm stand with lawmakers next year to ensure that they keep any extra revenue generated through a tuition increase, rather than sending the money to the state's General Fund.

"This year, I think that, as you all go to fight for our budget in the legislature, you are going to have to fight really, really hard for us to keep the tuition on the campuses," he said. "I think you should do that. That's one of the things I want you to really think about because, if you don't, we are going to have an enormous erosion in quality around here."

The Board of Governors will make decisions about tuition guidelines and the UNC system budget in upcoming meetings.