UNC President Erskine Bowles limits tuition increases

Under a new plan proposed by UNC President Erskine Bowles and approved by the UNC system’s Board of Governors, the tuition for system colleges and universities cannot increase by more than 6.5% in any new school year. By establishing this limit on tuition increases in most schools, Bowles and the UNC system have made college more affordable for new and returning students alike. In an e-mail dated Sept. 29 and sent to the members of the UNC Board of Governors, Bowles outlined his “proposed four-year tuition plan” for the system. According to Bowles, the University has a responsibility to keep tuition as low as possible while assuring that it has “the appropriate resources to provide [its] students with the highest quality education.” At Western Carolina and other UNC schools, this limit on tuition increases will reduce some of the financial difficulties of attending college for both new and returning students. Despite this limitation in tuition increases, financial aid for eligible students will not decrease, according to Bowles. In his e-mail, Bowles said that financial aid funds will be used to ensure that all eligible North Carolina students continue to receive financial aid and “are held harmless from the tuition and fee increases.” Bowles’ dedication to maintaining financial aid as much as possible will benefit many students at WCU and elsewhere, and Cullowhee students will benefit from the financial aid they will continue to receive. April Bethea, a writer for the Charlotte Observer, confirmed that this plan of Bowles is official. “Tuition at most University of North Carolina campuses won’t rise more than 6.5% a year for the next four years under a plan approved Friday [October 13] by the system’s Board of Governors,” Bethea said in an online article. This finalization of the increase on tuitions will help keep college affordable for students while maximizing the potential of schools to modernize and upgrade as necessary. Here at Western Carolina, Student Body President Cody Grasty spoke with the WC about this limit in tuition increases. “Over the next four years, athletics and student fees will go up a max of 6.5%,” said Grasty. “This increase allows for flexibility, stability, and accessibility with money and finances,” Grasty continued. WCU is fortunate to be included in this limitation on tuition increases so that its students can attend school more easily in terms of finances, rather than having to pay a significantly higher amount of money in each new school year. John Bardo, the Chancellor for Western Carolina University, recently participated in an e-mail interview with the WC about the tuition increase limit. “The intent of the policy is to keep the University affordable and to make tuition changes predictable,” said Bardo. By doing so, more students will be able to attend WCU, and they will be able to anticipate whether they can continue to do so in future years. Maintaining sufficient salaries for faculty members at WCU will remain a challenge, said Bardo. “There is no reason to believe that demand for faculty members will decline or that in many areas the number of highly qualified candidates will increase significantly. Therefore, salary pressures will continue,” Bardo said. Because the WCU faculty members are so important for providing a quality education for their students, the university must find a way to provide the salaries they deserve and work hard to earn on a daily basis. Bardo supports the limit in tuition increases for UNC schools because he has an interest in the students. “The Board of Trustees and my administration are very concerned about access and the ability of students to stay in school,” said Bardo. His efforts to keep college affordable for the students of WCU are admirable, and Bowles’ limit on tuition increases for UNC schools should help Bardo and WCU keep tuition more affordable for students. As a whole, Erskine Bowles’s policy to limit tuition increases at UNC schools, including Western Carolina University, is a solid one that will benefit all students. By keeping tuition as low as reasonably possible while working to strengthen various elements of the university, WCU can only improve its financial status, and students and faculty members alike will benefit in numerous ways.