Archived News

WCU Trustees approve tuition, fee increases

More than 11,600 students are enrolled at Western Carolina University. WCU photo More than 11,600 students are enrolled at Western Carolina University. WCU photo

“Extraordinary” inflation and the need to match state salary increases will prompt increases to the cost of attendance at Western Carolina University next year, according to the 2023-2024 schedule of tuition and fees the Board of Trustees adopted at their Dec. 2 meeting. 

While undergraduate tuition will stay the same thanks to the N.C. Promise Tuition Plan, graduation tuition will increase 3% — a $133 annual increase for in-state students and $445 for out-of-state students. At a Board of Trustees retreat held Nov. 4 in Highlands, Provost Richard Starnes said the proceeds will be reinvested into the graduate assistantships that are often part of financial aid packages for graduate students. 

“Our assistantships have lagged inflation, I think it’s safe to say,” Starnes said. “What we are looking for is this increase in graduate tuition, much of it would be reinvested into graduate assistantships, would enhance enrollment, allow us to maybe better seal the deal with graduate students in competitive programs, as well as continue to provide research and teaching assistants where needed across the curriculum.”

Students will see a 4% increase in the athletics fee, bringing it to $903 per year; a 4.3% increase in the health services fee, for a total of $365 per year; and a 4% increase in the student activity fee, now to total $657 per year. In total, mandatory fees will increase 2.5%, or $75. 

Inflation is the primary driver behind these increases, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Mike Byers told the board. Supplies and materials cost 9% more than they did a year ago, and the state legislature funded a 6% salary increase to offset the rising cost of living. Because the areas funded by these mandatory fees are not eligible for state funding, the fee must increase to give those employees an equivalent boost. 

“We’re asking for this increase not because 4% covers the entire cost. It’s just all that we’re allowed to ask,” Byers said. 

Related Items

Student parking fees will also increase, for similar reasons. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors who live on campus will see their parking fee rise $10, to $410 per year, while the cost for senior residents will increase $26 to $350 per year, part of an ongoing effort to make the cost of parking equal for all residents, regardless of class. Commuter rates will increase $6, to $330, and motorcycles $1, to $43. The transportation fee will increase $4 per year, a 3.25% increase. 

Despite “extraordinary inflation” that is increasing costs of on-campus dining by 17% across different menu categories, the average proposed increase across dining plan types is only 3.8%, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Sam Miller old trustees. According to the Consumer Price Index, food away from home in the southern region has increased 7.15% over the past year, Miller said. 

“We think this is a really fair proposition given the inflationary factors that are hitting the food service industry,” he said. 

Likewise, residence hall rates will see a modest increase given the economic landscape, rising only 2%. 

“We may have bigger increases in the future, but we’re hoping to keep it affordable for this year,” Miller said. 

Overall, the cost of attendance — including food and housing — will increase 2.08% for in-state undergraduates and 1.6% for out-of-state undergraduates. Graduate students will see their cost of attendance increase by just over 3%. 

Trustees unanimously approved the new rates for 2023-2024 at their Dec. 2 meeting, but the University of North Carolina Board of Governors will have to give final approval before the rates become effective. 

Leave a comment


  • Simple Bidenomics 101

    posted by Hal

    Saturday, 12/10/2022

  • The reason for the rising tuition costs is thanks to adding all these useless social justice classes that will not provide you with a career later in life along with increasing an already bloated administration.

    posted by Lucille Josephs

    Saturday, 12/10/2022

  • Can we just get rid of competitive sports in schools? Club sports is totally okay but there's no reason a student at western should be spending 1k a year on a football team, especially one that sucks

    posted by JB

    Wednesday, 12/07/2022

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.