The UNC Board of Governors has “generously” agreed to consider capping tuition increases at 5 percent a year for the next four years (“UNC talks of 5 percent tuition hike cap,” Nov. 8 news story). Five percent is still four times the annual inflation rate of 1.2 percent – meaning that tuition is increasing four times faster than most other expenses.
The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research puts the current rate of tuition fees at $6,105 per year, excluding room, meal plans and books. At a 5 percent increase a year for four years – that translates to a tuition and fees cost of $7,420 a year in 2017. The U.S. Census Bureau puts the 2012 N.C. median income at $45,150, which has decreased over the past three years by 3.43 percent.
The dream of a college education for the majority of N.C. residents is quickly becoming unattainable, and the residents of this state deserve better. The N.C. State Constitution mandates that “The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.” The residents of N.C. deserve, and are entitled to better.