December 2, 2011
The UNC Asheville Board of Trustees approved proposed tuition and fees for the 2012-2013 academic year at its meeting Friday, Dec. 2. The recommendation, which now moves to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors for consideration, originated with campus tuition and fee committees, made up of faculty, students and administrators.
The board approved a $500 increase in annual tuition for full-time in-state and out-of-state students, with 25 percent of the revenue from the increase to be set aside for need-based financial aid. The increase would bring tuition to $3,666 for in-state students and $17,298 for out-of-state students for the coming academic year.
The tuition increase includes a "catch-up" adjustment, which is permitted by the UNC General Administration to enable campuses with significant unmet needs to "catch up" to tuition and fee levels at public peer universities. Peer universities are those of similar size, curriculum and mission. Even with the increase, UNC Asheville's combined tuition and fees will remain in the bottom quarter of its peer institutions.
The university would use the revenue generated by the tuition increase to address critical needs related to maintaining UNC Asheville's academic quality and the student experience, including maintaining faculty positions, enhancing diversity, and funding undergraduate research, student recruitment and retention, and campus safety efforts, said Cissie Stevens, UNC Asheville Board of Trustees chair.
"Raising tuition is a difficult decision, especially in this economic climate, but we cannot let the quality of education that's been built over decades slip away. We must keep our promise to our students of an excellent education and access to the classes they need to graduate," Stevens said.
Speaking on behalf of UNC Asheville students, Student Government Association President Renee Bindewald said, "Students don't want tuition to go up but we know it's necessary to make sure the quality of our education doesn't suffer. We have to protect our education and our entire academic core."
The tuition and fees package approved by the board also included a $123 increase in three general student fees and a $90 increase in the debt service fee.
The revenues from the debt service fee increase would go toward the purchase the MAHEC Family Health Center building, which would become the new location for UNC Asheville's student health and counseling services. The university and MAHEC are in the process of negotiating the sale/purchase of the building, located at 188 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, adjacent to the UNC Asheville campus.
"This is a rare opportunity for UNC Asheville to acquire a facility adjacent to campus that is already designed for health care and counseling services -- a pressing student need," said John Pierce, UNC Asheville vice chancellor for finance and operations.
If the proposed sale goes forward, it would most likely be finalized in early 2013, after MAHEC vacates the Family Health Center building and moves to its new facility in South Asheville. The purchase must be approved by the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, the MAHEC Board, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, and the N.C. General Assembly.
UNC Asheville's current student health and counseling center is located in the Weizenblatt Health Center, which was built 39 years ago when the university's enrollment was 1,129. Enrollment on campus has more than tripled to 3,665 and student health and counseling needs are in far greater demand than when the center opened in 1972, said Bill Haggard, UNC Asheville vice chancellor for student affairs.
Due to Weizenblatt's small size, the student health and counseling center has too few exam rooms, and is unable to provide pharmacy services, physical therapy, and IV therapy, Haggard said. It does not allow for dedicated space for women's healthcare, one of the most requested services at the health center.
The $23 increase in the student health fee would go to support building operations after student health and counseling services move into the former MAHEC Family Health Center building.
The $60 increase in the education and technology fee will be used to expand the operating hours of the campus information technology services help desk, so that students will have around-the-clock technical support, rather than just daytime assistance; purchase new academic and scientific equipment; update the One Card system, which is the campus ID and electronic door access system; and improve library services for students and faculty.
The $40 increase in the athletic fee will go toward the development of the new women's swim team, which will start competing in 2012-13. Women's swimming will become the eighth women's sport and the 15th NCAA Division I sport at the university. UNC Asheville previously fielded a swimming program from 1972 through 1976.
The proposed increases would bring combined tuition, general student fees and debt service to $5,996.50 for full-time in-state undergraduates and $19,628.50 for full-time, out-of-state undergraduates for the 2012-13 academic year. Tuition, general student fees and debt service for the current academic year are $5,283.50 for full-time, in-state students and $18,915.50 for full-time, out-of-state students.