During Monday’s tour of Fayetteville State University, members of the UNC Board of Governors heard push-back on a tuition-cut proposal floated at its meeting last month.
The Fayetteville Observer reported FSU Chancellor James Anderson took the opportunity of board members’ visit to address the issue:
Last year, FSU pulled out of that effort to cut the cost of attending college and boost enrollment. FSU, too, had been proposed for the $500 tuition, but university alumni were among those who criticized the plan, saying the reduced price would devalue the college’s degree.
“I’m an evidence-based guy,” Anderson told those in attendance during the opening session of Monday’s visit at the university’s School of Nursing. “I can overwhelm you with evidence that North Carolina is not the place to do that.”
During a PowerPoint presentation, the chancellor cited the most recent AffordableColleges.com national ranking of the most affordable state colleges and universities. The ranking is based on in-state tuition, number of students on financial aid, graduation rates and overall net cost of going to college, excluding any college aid.
FSU ranks sixth, one spot behind the UNC School of the Arts. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is rated seventh. Overall, 12 UNC system schools fall into the top 50, based on the rankings.
“We don’t even have to look at the top 50,” Anderson said. “In the top 38, we’ve got 12 UNC schools — the most affordable in the country in every state. Why are we talking about reducing the tuition? We’re already the most affordable.”
For the 2017-2018 school year, in-state, non-boarder students pay $8,148 in tuition and fees at FSU. Out-of-state, non-boarder students pay $19,756.
In terms of most affordable online programs in the United States, AffordableColleges.com reports that the number of institutions in the UNC system increases from 12 to 14 in the top 50.
“Almost every category you look at over AffordableColleges.com, they say North Carolina is doing the best job in the country,” Anderson said. “So why are you reducing tuition? We really aren’t going to have much income coming in from tuition if you do that.”
With a new, heavily conservative faction making its presence felt on the board, tuition cuts have been discussed as a priority, with members citing the state constitution as saying tuition should be as free as is practical.
UNC System President Margaret Spellings, who has had her own tensions with the board recently, pressed that point Monday.
“That’s why the legislature just lowered tuition, or they will for the (2018) or (2019) school year. Three of our institutions, as part of a pilot program to experiment with tuition, (are charging) $500 a semester. Which is pretty close to free as practical. It is an issue with American families these days, but we can’t compromise the quality of the programming …”
Two committees of the board will meet this week.
The first meeting of the board’s Subcommittee on Laboratory Schools will be held Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. in the Board Room of the Spangler Building, 910 Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill.
The board’s full committee on University Governance will meet Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the Executive Conference Room of the Spangler Building.