Education

Committee approves tuition hikes at UNC campuses

Posted February 10, 2011 1:44 p.m. EST
Updated February 10, 2011 5:31 p.m. EST

— The University of North Carolina Board of Governors’ Finance and Budget Committee on Thursday approved recommendations to increase in-state tuition for undergraduates at public universities across the state.

The recommendations now go to the full Board, which will vote Friday. If approved, state lawmakers must give final approval.

Thirteen campuses, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, East Carolina University and Fayetteville State, are seeking the maximum possible tuition increase of 6.5 percent.

Other universities are also asking for big increases. North Carolina State University wants a 6.2 percent hike, and North Carolina Central University is asking for a 5 percent increase.

That will mean an extra $313 on top of this year's undergraduate tuition of $4,800 at UNC-Chapel Hill, and an extra $170 for the North Carolina A&T State University undergraduate now paying $2,600.

Some campuses decided to spread out special increases that kicked in last year, meaning double-digit increases this fall.

The proposed increases come as the state tackles reducing spending by billions of dollars to make up for a projected budget shortfall.

On Wednesday, Gov. Bev Perdue announced that the deficit is about $1 billion less than the initially expected $3.7 billion.

UNC System President Tom Ross said Thursday that it's too early to tell what the new projection could mean for the system.

"I suspect that we are still going to see substantial cuts at the university level, and we are hopeful that we can avoid permanent damage.”

Campuses have already looked at ways to cut spending after Perdue instructed administrators to prepare for budget cuts of 5 to 10 percent, and they have asked for the increases to help offset the state cuts.

University leaders have warned that additional cuts will affect the quality of academics.

What is still unclear is if additional money from the tuition increases will be returned to the campuses. North Carolina lawmakers could decide to put that back into the state’s General Fund.