UNC Leaders Want More For Student Aid

UNC Leaders Want More For Student Aid

Boosting need-based financial aid could help increase overall student enrollment as well as minority enrollment at UNC-system schools, according to Dr. Judith Pulley, Vice President for Academic Planning for UNC. UNC leaders are asking the state for an estimated $19.5 million (for the 2001-03 budget biennium) to boost financial aid. Last year, they received $6.3 million.

Boosting aid would especially help seven “focused-growth” campuses – those that UNC officials say currently underuse their capacity for students and are therefore targeted for major enrollment growth. (The seven focused-growth schools are Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University.)

The increase would especially impact growth at these institutions, Pulley told legislators in December, because students at those schools make up a majority of those who need financial aid. In 1999, students in focused-growth institutions accounted for 20.8 percent of total UNC enrollment, but 27.7 percent received UNC grants. Freshmen in focused-growth institutions accounted for 23.4 percent of overall enrollment, though they comprised approximately 35.5 percent of all grant recipients.

While increasing financial aid is part of UNC’s effort to increase enrollment and help the system absorb projected enrollment, it is also part of the system’s effort to increase minority presence at UNC schools.

“I really think the challenge is more than recruiting [minorities] from high school,” Pulley told Clarion Call. Many parents, particularly minority parents, Pulley said, “greatly exaggerate the cost to go to a North Carolina school. They are not aware of financial aid for which they may qualify, such as pell grants, for example.”

But the increase in financial aid could boost enrollment numbers higher than the UNC-system anticipates, Pulley said.”With the financial aid increase, we are targeting kids who would otherwise not think about college,” she said. The current projection of 50,000 new students over the next decade is “a conservative assumption,” Pulley said. While the growth in minority numbers is roughly factored into the projection, it does not factor in the boost in enrollment that could result from an increase in financial aid.

“The university is just not smart enough to know how much financial aid will increase the college-going rate,” Pulley explained. “But we have factored it in based on the experience [growth rates] of the past seven years.”

Wesleyan College Has Story to Tell

Private colleges that offer competitive programs, adjust quickly to economic environments, and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit will likely have an edge over other colleges who want a thriving future, according to a new report by Carolina Journal – a new, monthly newspaper featuring news and commentary by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. In the second edition of the new publication, Pope Center Publications Director Jon Sanders looks at the effects of slashing tuition on college programs, with particular attention paid to the recent tuition cut at North Carolina Wesleyan College. Sanders reveals other important reasons, besides the tuition decrease, responsible for Wesleyan’s increased enrollment.