Proposals to Raise Tuition Draw Criticism

The UNC Board of Governors last week allowed tuition increases at eight campuses, which drew fire from some board members.

“What troubles me are campus-based tuition increases,” UNC Student Body President Andrew Payne said. “It’s unfortunate that student’s might choose schools based on their tuition.”

Since 1998, when the board adopted a tuition policy that allows individual campuses to raise tuition, seven campuses have applied for tuition increases. Many campuses that make the decision have cited “extraordinary circumstances,” such as UNC-Chapel Hill’s decision last fall to increase tuition to pay for capital improvements, as reasons to raise tuition.

But “wide approval [for tuition increases] does not equal extraordinary circumstances,” Payne said. Allowing campuses to raise tuition will open a “Pandora’s box,” where discrepancies in tuition will become greater, he said.

Leading members of the board, however, said that tuition increases would be followed by efforts to increase financial aid to the neediest students. UNC leaders are asking state lawmakers for approximately $20 million this year to boost need-based financial aid.

“Even though increases are more than any of us would like to have, we’re making a provision that the neediest [students] get help and that those who have money will pay,” one board member said. The board approved a recommendation by its Committee on Budget and Finance that each institution set aside an amount of their tuition increase adequate to hold financially needy students harmless. “It is recommended that institutional financial aid directors be allowed to administer all funds set aside for financial aid from all campus-initiated tuition increases in a manner that carries out optimal financial aid policy at the director’s discretion,” reads the recommendation.

The tuition increases approved last week include: * Additional increases of $150 in each of the next two years for all students at Appalachian State University, North Carolina A & T State University, and UNC Greensboro. * Additional increases of $80 in each of the next two years for all students at UNC Pembroke. * Increases of $300 in each of the next two years for UNC Asheville. * Increases for fiscal year 2001-02 in tuition of $200 for undergraduate students, $288 for gradu- ate students, and $394 for first professional students at North Carolina Central University. * Increases in the Masters of Accounting and masters of Science in Management programs at North Carolina State University (effective fall, 2002). * Increases in tuition for professional and graduate programs at UNC-Chapel Hill.

In related news, the board also approved the establishment of the “Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy.”

The Hunt Institute, named for former North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, will “focus on research, policy analysis, and ‘best practices’ tied to comprehensive improvement in education ” according to Broad. It will extend the component programs within the UNC Center for School Leadership Development – created in 1997 to focus and align varied University resources on professional development for teachers, administrators, and other educational leaders – to other complementary organizations within and outside the state.”

Broad did not say how much the program would cost but said that she did “not anticipate that any state funds [would] be used to build the Hunt Institute.”