Trustees OK major tuition increase at UNC-CH

Posted November 17, 2011 12:24 p.m. EST
Updated November 17, 2011 6:35 p.m. EST

— Ignoring the pleas of students to limit tuition increases, the Board of Trustees for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday approved one of the largest increases in recent memory.

North Carolina State University officials also are poised to adopt a hefty tuition increase for 2012-13.

Under the UNC-Chapel Hill plan, which still must be approved by the UNC Board of Governors and state lawmakers, 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.

Students presented trustees with postcards signed by 1,000 students in opposition to the tuition increase, and they decried what they see as a push toward making UNC more like a private university.

"Moderation is key in the midst of trying times," student body president Mary Cooper said. "A 15.6 percent increase is untenable, especially for current students."

If the proposed increase goes into effect, tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates will be $7,795 and $28,442 for out-of-state undergraduates. In-state graduate students would pay $9,689, and out-of-state students would pay $25,779.

UNC officials said raising tuition is necessary because state budget cuts have trimmed the university's spending by $231 million in recent years. Hundreds of staff positions have been eliminated, faculty and staff have gone three years without a salary increase and class sizes have increased since course offerings have been cut, officials said.

Provost Bruce Carney said more than 130 faculty members have left UNC since 2009.

"We've always said students and families are our last resort, and again, I think I've outlined why we've reached the point of last resort," Chancellor Holden Thorp said.

Students said UNC 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.

Officials said much of the endowment is earmarked for specific uses. They also noted that 45 percent of the tuition increase will be set aside for need-based financial aid.

Some students said they understand the need for them to pay more.

"I'd rather see an increase in the cost of tuition than us losing classes that would be fundamental or losing library hours," junior Christopher Wallace said.

Other tuition increases

N.C. State's Board of Trustees is expected to vote Friday on a proposal to raise tuition for 2012-13 by 6.5 percent, or $330 for in-state undergraduates and $660 for all other students. The board also could approve an $1,170 increase over five years to hire faculty and reduce class sizes.

Together, the increases would raise tuition at N.C. State by more than 9 percent next year, to $7,523 for in-state undergraduates.

North Carolina Central University officials are still formulating their tuition request for next year, but officials are eying a 6.5 percent increase, which would be $192 for in-state undergraduates.