Tuition could rise 2 percent in UNC’s new guaranteed tuition plan

The Old Well at UNC-Chapel Hill, the flagship of North Carolina’s university system.
The Old Well at UNC-Chapel Hill, the flagship of North Carolina’s university system. Staff photo by John Rottet

Tuition could rise by 2 percent in the fall at UNC system campuses for North Carolina students, the first to have guaranteed four-year tuition under state law.

Required fees could jump an average of 2.8 percent across the 16 public universities in North Carolina, according to proposals presented to the UNC Board of Governors on Thursday.

The proposed tuition rates are the first under a new legislative requirement that UNC system campuses freeze tuition for in-state students who remain continuously enrolled for four years. If the increases are approved by the board in March, the higher rates would apply only to the incoming cohort of students in 2017-18 – in-state freshmen or transfer students.

Increases for future incoming classes would be guided by median family income in North Carolina.

If approved, in-state undergraduate tuition and fee prices would rise to $8,865 at N.C. State University, $8,782 at UNC-Chapel Hill and $6,283 at N.C. Central University. The total increase is 1.9 percent at NCSU and UNC, and 3.8 percent at NCCU. The higher hike at NCCU is due to a $100 increase in a debt service fee to fund a new student center on campus.

The annual tuition and fee prices do not include other expenses such as room, board and books. Even so, UNC campuses rank among the least expensive compared with similar public universities around the country.

Affordability is one of five goals in the UNC system’s new strategic plan, and it has been a recent focus of the legislature. Last year, lawmakers imposed limits on fee increases at public universities and created a new $500 tuition per semester plan at three campuses – Elizabeth City State University, UNC-Pembroke and Western Carolina University.

Despite the new limits, some board members Thursday expressed frustration with rising fees and the number of fees at the campuses.

Board member Steve Long read the list of fees from his daughter’s bill at NCSU. “I’m fee’d up,” he said.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill