Tuition and fees forum brings proposed changes

By Valerie McMurray – vrmcmurr@unca.edu – Asst. News Editor | Nov. 12, 2014 |

Revenue from proposed tuition increases for 2015-17 will fund salary increases for faculty and staff, according to John Pierce, vice chancellor for finance and operations.

Additional fee increases will allow for student wage raises, spreading Wi-Fi access to the quad and creating a women’s golf team, among other improvements.

A committee discussed proposed tuition and fees at two panels last Wednesday and Thursday. The recommendation includes a five percent increase for both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates.

Fees will increase for athletics and combined general fees, comprised of activity, health and transportation fees.

“Over the last six years, we basically had about $10 million in cuts to our state appropriation, and a large part of the tuition increase has gone toward offsetting those state cuts. What that left us with, in terms of running the university, is not having any additional money for salaries,” Pierce said.

Administration said they hope to prevent faculty and staff turnover by increasing wages.

Pierce said salary benchmarks at UNC Asheville have been way below the midpoint for both tenured and non-tenured members and turnover would hurt the quality of the school in the long term.

Annual maximum tuition rate increase is five percent, mandated by the North Carolina General Assembly, down from 6.5 percent for the last four years.

The increase translates to an $183 increase in annual tuition for full-time in-state students in the first year. For the following year, another $192 increase is planned. Out-of-state students will pay an additional $926 in the upcoming year, followed by $991.

The proposal would end the practice of linking revenue from tuition with need-based financial aid. In some previous years, Pierce said, 25 percent of those funds were allocated to need-based financial aid. The rate was never set as a standard and is based on guidelines from UNCA general administration.

Currently, about 15 percent goes to need-based aid, the new maximum. The committee intends to maintain that rate, Pierce said.

The increase would bring tuition to $4,041 per semester by 2017 for in-state students, without room and board.  Out-of-state students would pay $11,186 for tuition.

The proposal also includes a $120 increase in three general student fees for 2015-16 and an $86 reduction in the debt service fee.

Athletic fees would rise to $840 per year by 2017, increasing by $55 for two consecutive academic years. The increased price is still lower than the $1,000 average for a Big South Conference school, according to Janet Cone, athletics director.

However, UNCA students pay more in athletic fees than most of their peers. UNC Chapel Hill students pay just $358 per year.

Part of the revenues from the athletic fee increase, totalling $30,000, would go toward launching a women’s golf team, which would help the university meet Title IX standards for gender equity.

Another $100,000 would go toward increased membership fees, adding an additional full-time academic advisor for student athletes, transitioning part-time coaches to full-time and improving the Student-Athlete Academic Life Skills Program, all mandated by Big South Conference guidelines.

Athletic funding will also be spent on improved health care, domestic violence education and cost of attendance, Cone said.

The $55 increase in the student activity fee would go to increasing student wages for some positions. The committee considered research suggesting that on-campus employment benefits students’ academic careers and future employability, according to Jill Moffitt, associate vice chancellor for student affairs.

The education and technology fee would increase by $12 the first year, which would contribute to a project to spread Wi-Fi access to the outdoor quad, a student proposal.

The $10 increase in the health fee will allow Health and Counseling Center to provide on-site physical therapy sessions one day per week during the school year.

Jay Cutspec, director of the counseling center, said physical therapy is currently the most utilized off-campus referral service.

Students frequently fail to complete off-campus physical therapy, most likely due to inconvenience, Cutspec said.

The transportation fee, which currently stands at $69 per year, will not face increases. In the past, the fee has been raised to improve shuttle services and fund the Reed Creek Greenway.

The debt-service fee would be reduced by $86 to $251 per year.

“Debt service fees are common to all campuses in the UNC system. They are used to pay the principal and interest on specific capital projects for the construction, renovation or purchase of nonacademic facilities designed for student use, such as student unions, dining halls, parking and recreation facilities,” Pierce said.

The proposed increases would bring combined tuition, general student fees and debt service to $10,425 for full-time in-state undergraduates and $23,116 for full-time, out-of-state undergraduates for the 2015-16 academic year. Tuition, general student fees and debt service for the current academic year are $10,058 for full-time, in-state students and $21,263 for full-time, out-of-state students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *