WCU tuition hike to offset budget crunch

To help offset the impact of budget cuts recently authorized by the N.C. General Assembly, Western Carolina University will raise in-state undergraduate tuition and fees by 17.5 percent effective for the fall semester.

University of North Carolina system President Erskine Bowles approved the plan Wednesday, July 14. A special provision of the state budget allows UNC campuses to increase tuition by as much as $750 for the 2010-11 academic year, a measure intended to help address a $70 million cut to the UNC system’s budget.

Western Carolina’s plan would raise tuition by $572.80 for 2010-11, in addition to a $137 increase in campus-initiated tuition previously approved by the UNC Board of Governors.

The tuition increase will maintain a quality student academic experience at WCU and will generate about $3.8 million, said Chuck Wooten, vice chancellor for administration and finance.

Eighty percent of the increase – or $3.1 million – will be used to prevent the loss of 32.2 faculty positions at WCU.

Another 20 percent will go to need-based financial aid, Wooten said.

But WCU is not alone in tuition increases. All campuses in the UNC system are raising tuition.

UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State University both had supplemental tuition increases of $750 in addition to campus initiated tuition increases.

Bowles said additional tuition charges are the only way the system can maintain quality.

“I have long prided myself in being a ‘low-tuition guy.’ A supplemental tuition increase of up to $750 certainly flies in the face of that,” Bowles said. “Nonetheless, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that low tuition without high quality is no bargain for anyone – not our students, their future employers or the state taxpayers. To compete successfully for the jobs of tomorrow, North Carolina must have a highly trained, highly skilled workforce.”

A comparison to public peer institutions nationally, conducted using the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, ranked WCU as having the lowest tuition and fees for resident undergraduate and graduate students in 2009-10.

“This is a difficult decision,” WCU Chancellor John W. Bardo said. “However, even with this increase, our overall tuition rates will be low compared to our public peer institutions and other UNC campuses similar to us in size and mission.”

In response to budget cuts and reversions last year, Western Carolina eliminated or froze 94 positions – primarily in administrative areas, Bardo said.

“It is critical that we preserve our core programs, retain our outstanding faculty members, minimize the impact of cuts on class size and class availability, and provide critical student support,” Bardo said.

Typically, students would begin receiving bills for the fall semester later this week. Because of the recent changes, billing for fall 2010 semester will be delayed to allow time for adjustments in financial aid packages, said Nancy S. Brendell, WCU bursar.

Electronic notifications for billing will be sent on Friday, July 23. Students should make full payment by Aug. 13 to guarantee their class schedules.

For more information, visit tuitionfees.wcu.edu.

WCU trustees adopt tuition increase

Western Carolina University’s board of trustees voted to increase the school’s tuition by 6.5 percent next year.

The vote to adopt a voluntary tuition hike will only take effect if the North Carolina General Assembly backs off on its proposed 8 percent tuition hike across the UNC system.

WCU doesn’t stand to gain from statewide hike, which would merely plug holes in the state budget. However, the voluntary hike preferred by the WCU trustees would remain at the local level and augment the university’s own budget.

WCU Chancellor John Bardo explained the need for a voluntary tuition increase to the school’s trustees before the vote.

“If you look at the institutions in the UNC system most like Western, our market basket of programs –– we have the most expensive programs, but our tuition lags substantially behind schools like ASU and Wilmington,” Bardo said.

The General Assembly already voted to increase tuition across the UNC system by 8 percent or $200 to cover a $35 million hole in the state’s general fund.

Vice Chancellor for administration and finance Chuck Wooten said UNC President Erskine Bowles will ask the Assembly to allow each of the universities in the system to adopt voluntary tuition and fee increases.

“We remain hopeful that the [General Assembly] will be able to find that $35 million in some other way,” Wooten said.

Bardo said WCU would use half of the money it raises from its 6.5 percent increase for need-based scholarships and the other half for its quality improvement plan. The raise would cost an in-state undergraduate student an extra $31 on 2010-11 tuition fees.

“We are in a position in which we’re trying to increase quality, and we need the resources to do it,” Bardo said.

WCU Student Government Assembly President Josh Cotton asked the trustees for a 5.2 percent increase instead, but the board voted unanimously to adopt the amount put forward by the school’s leadership.

“There’s no way you’ll get 0 percent,” Cotton said. “That’s why I went down to meet with presidents from other institutions to work out a good compromise. Even though it’s a small amount, I still promised the students I’d try to keep it as low as possible.”

Steve Warren, chairman of the board of trustees, said WCU needed to balance its mandate to provide an affordable education with its drive to improve the quality of its product.

“We want our students to have the best. They deserve the best,” said Warren. “Yet we also must be mindful of our state constitution, which requires us to provide public higher education as free from costs as possible. The task is to find that delicate balance.”

WCU trustees OK fee increases

Western Carolina University’s board of trustees unanimously approved proposed tuition and fees for the 2008-09 academic year, including increases to support operational costs for a new indoor recreation center currently under construction and to begin meeting student requests for enhanced campus health services.

Keeping college affordable

Some time this holiday weekend, my nephew Sterling will come for a visit at my mother’s house. He’s a high school senior, and he is still unsure of his college plans.

Page 2 of 2
Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
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.