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Are UNC Schools Worth The Price Of Tuition?

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Board of Governors for the University of North Carolina system voted Friday for a tuition freeze for the 2003-2004 school year, but in the last few years, tuition at all 16 campuses has spiked more than 20 percent, raising the question of whether public universities are still a bargain.

Last year, tuition increased 8 percent for all 16 UNC campuses. Many students complain the state's price is too high, but do the complaints add up? WRAL compared UNC-Chapel Hill with three other state universities.

In-state students at Chapel Hill pay $2,814 a year. At the University of Virginia, students pay $4,780 a year. Students at the University of Tennessee have to shell out $3,946 a year. In WRAL's 4-school comparison, only the University of Florida costs less than UNC, at $2,630 a year.

According to state statute, benefits of the university should extend to everyone free of expense as far as is practicable, but many believe that which is practicable is a matter of opinion.

"I think it's expensive. If I wasn't getting financial aid, I wouldn't be able to go here," student Sabrina King said.

"You're paying a bit more, but you're getting a better experience all around," student Jabari Jerkins said.

UNC President Molly Broad said past increases were necessary to keep professors in the classroom and keep the university competitive.

"Even though we've increased pretty rapidly in the last couple of years, our tuition is among the very lowest in the nation," she said.

Officials said tuition is only about one-fourth of yearly college expenses. The bulk of the costs come from room and board.

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