UNC-Chapel Hill trustees approve tuition increase for graduate students

jstancill@newsobserver.comNovember 21, 2013 

— Graduate students would pay $350 more in tuition next year under a plan approved Thursday by the UNC-Chapel Hill trustees.

The board also approved a 1.2 percent increase in fees for all students.

Undergraduate rates, typically the largest source of tuition revenue for the university, were out of the hands of trustees. UNC system President Tom Ross had proposed a tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates next year, while the legislature had mandated a 12.3 percent increase for out-of-state students at several universities, including the Chapel Hill campus. The revenue from that hike will go to the state’s general fund, not campus coffers.

The out-of-state undergraduate increase amounts to $3,469; that, when added to fees, brings the total bill to $33,614 for out-of-staters. Undergraduates from North Carolina would pay $8,363 in tuition and fees. The annual rates do not include other costs such as room, food, travel and books.

Leaders said they weren’t happy with the large increase for out-of-state students.

“It does have a potential to be very harmful for our educational programs,” Chancellor Carol Folt said.

A consultant’s report presented Wednesday showed that the out-of-state pool, which has been academically competitive, is highly sensitive to price changes.

Large hikes can interfere with the university’s financial aid availability and its policy to admit students without regard to their financial circumstance, Folt said.

Alston Gardner, a trustee from Chapel Hill, said the study indicated that the price increase will significantly affect the number of applications to the university from out-of-state students, as well as the number and quality of those who ultimately enroll. That, he said, can have a negative and reinforcing impact on in-state students.

“This is a really serious threat to the quality of our students,” Gardner said.

In the past, trustees have been criticized for disproportionately large tuition increases for out-of-state students.

Parking fee proposal

Another fee, which would charge students $227 to be able to park close to campus after hours, met with student resistance. Student Body President Christy Lambden said the fee was too extreme.

In the end, a proposal to spread the fee across the student body was accepted. Each student except freshmen will be charged $10.40 per semester under the plan. Freshmen aren’t allowed to have cars on campus.

But trustees agreed to review a five-year parking strategy that prescribes that students help bear the costs for new parking decks and other improvements.

The UNC system’s governing board will ultimately vote on the proposals early next year.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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