Tuition Hike and Budget Cuts Coming to UNCC

UNC Charlotte Tuition Due to the state of the economy and budget cuts there seems to be no doubt now that the North Carolina General Assembly will increase tuition at UNC System schools for the 2009-10 school year. The big question is how much it will be.

In January the UNC Charlotte trustees approved a plan calling for no tuition increase for resident undergraduate students, but it was said student fees were likely to increase. (See “No Tuition Increase Likely for UNC Charlotte Students in 2009-10”).  All of this was pending the approval of the UNC Board of Governors and the NC General Assembly.

The UNC Board of Governors proposed a 2.8 percent tuition increase for UNC System schools in February. From there it moved to the NC General Assembly where a number of proposals were made. With the state of economy in North Carolina and budget shortfalls it seemed like this 2.8 percent increase in tuition was the most likely outcome.

On Tuesday the NC House subcommittee that is writing the bill agreed to an alternative plan that would raise tuition by 8 percent or $200, whichever is less. This replaced another proposal to raise annual tuition by $258 for every student in the UNC System.

Under that proposal schools with low tuition rates would have seen double-digit increases in tuition. Still the proposal is far higher than the 2.8 percent tuition increase submitted by the UNC Board of Governors.

Once the full House approves a budget proposal, the Senate and House would work out a final compromise and send it to Gov. Beverly Perdue for her signature. Alternative proposals could come with more changes, but one thing seems certain, tuition hikes will be coming to UNC System schools.

The Burden on College Students is Unfair

College Student Debt Is the General Assembly increasing the burden on students because they are unable to make the cuts needed or raise taxes? College students are struggling just as much as everyone else in this national recession but it appears the General Assembly is prepared to place their lack of fiscal discipline squarely on the back of students in the UNC system.

While it is true the state is facing a $4-5 billion dollar deficit (thanks @shrop), it seems unfair to place such a burden on those who can afford it the least. This also goes against UNC System President Erskine Bowles’ 6.5 percent cap on increases. While Bowles states he understands the problems the General Assembly faces it is clear the recommendation of the UNC Board of Governors and his cap hold no sway with the General Assembly in these tough economic times.

This comes at a time when all schools within the UNC System are preparing to deal with upcoming budget cuts from the state. Final details of the cuts will not be known until the budget is passed, but it could mean 400-500 layoffs system-wide, delays in construction projects and larger class sizes.

The tuition increase combined with the increase in fees already announced by most UNC System schools is placing a burden on students. The recession is hitting college students hard. Decent paying jobs are harder to find, the cost of food and gas continue to creep up, credit card rates have already risen and will likely rise more and private loans to pay for college are more difficult to obtain. In fact credit of any kind for college students is and will likely become harder to obtain.

Hope or Dashed Dreams?

In his speech before congress (see “President Obama Gives College Students Hope and a Challenge”) President Obama called for everyone to seek higher education and challenged college students to finish college. The President stated “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity — it is a prerequisite.”

Obama Hope His speech gave present and prospective college students hope that it would become easier to attend and pay for college. Now it seems that lawmakers and the economy are making it tougher than ever to do it. I still believe the Presidents’ speech DID inspire hope among college students, but right now hope does not pay the bills.

Did college students cause the recession? Has the real cost of college risen by this much? No, so why is the NC General Assembly placing such a burden on college students?

The federal government can bail out banks, insurance companies, auto makers and nearly everyone else deemed “vital to the economy”. But what about college students, the very future of economic growth in this country? If a college education is so important where is the college bailout? Are you pissed yet?