Faculty Council hears tuition options

Tuition is almost certain to increase this fall, but by how much and for what purposes remains to be decided.

At a Feb. 22 Faculty Council meeting, Chancellor James Moeser outlined various tuition proposals on the table, including Carolina-based plans and those coming out of the UNC Board of Governors.

University trustees in January approved the recommendation of a study group to increase tuition here by $400. The overriding reason for the increase was to generate money for competitive faculty salaries while setting aside a 40 percent portion of the additional revenues for need-based student aid.

The trustees' recommendation has been forwarded to the Board of Governors for its consideration this week. As the Gazette went to press, a board committee was scheduled to hold a tuition policy workshop on March 5, with the full board set to meet on March 6 to approve recommendations for tuition increases to forward to the legislature for final consideration.

But along with the campus-based recommendations under consideration there will be a Board of Governors proposal that was made during a February workshop in Winston-Salem. This proposal calls for a 10 percent tuition increase for all 16 UNC campuses. An additional provision would leave open the possibility of another $250 campus-based request for the research campuses -- Carolina, N.C. State University, East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte, and $200 for the others.

Meanwhile, there is another proposal that has been on the table for some time that would impose an across-the-board 4.8 percent increase at the system level on top of any campus-based increases to make up for an anticipated shortfall in state support for student enrollment growth.

At the Feb. 22 Faculty Council meeting, Moeser told faculty it was important to keep in mind the key points behind the campus-based $400 tuition increase that trustees had approved. In addition to pay raises for select faculty and for need-based aid, money would be available to increase stipends for graduate students who teach and to hire new faculty to reduce class sizes and student-faculty ratios.

The 10 percent increase suggested by a Board of Governors member would generate $40 million throughout the system, and $9 million at Carolina, but the money Carolina generates would be shifted to other campuses where enrollment growth is higher and where there is not enough need-based financial aid.

The total amount of money needed for enrollment growth throughout the system is $66 million, but only $2.3 million at Carolina. Similarly, there is a need for $10 million of need-based financial aid throughout the system, but only a need of $900,000 at Carolina.

And that is why, according to calculations from the Office of the President, $5.8 million of the $9 million generated at Carolina could be redistributed to other campuses to subsidize their enrollment growth and aid requirements.

If enacted, this would be a "precedent-shattering movement" by the Board of Governors, Moeser said. That's because the state usually allocates funds to cover enrollment growth. But, he added, the Board of Governors understands that the state has been hit hard by the economic downturn and more funds from Raleigh will be hard to come by.

Faculty Chair Sue Estroff said the campus should oppose the proposal to reduce the Carolina-based increase.

She also called for opposition to the proposal to redistribute tuition revenues from Carolina to other campuses because the revenue is generated here.

Carolina recognizes that it's part of a system and wants to be engaged in that system, she said, but the campus shouldn't be penalized for its research mission and slower growth rate.

"Several years ago Chancellor Hooker promised a bed for every head in relation to enrollment expansion and residential capacity," she said. "We are well on the way to meeting that goal. The problem is, we also need enough heads, faculty heads, for those student heads. We face the prospect of having more architectural capacity than educational capacity."