GREAT NEWS GUYS! We, as students will be paying so much less next year according to the associate provost and co-chairman of the student fee advisory committee, Dwayne Pinkney, and the Daily Tar Heel. We are saving $10.41 in student fees. Wait what? No, do not look over at the unprecedented 40% increase in tuition (almost $3000!) that in-state students could very well experience next year. And definitely do not look at the once-defeated sales tax (which aims to suck an additional $2.5 million out of the pockets of Orange County residents) that the Orange County Democrats are trying to sneak into “the books” with an off-year referendum.
Putting away the sarcasm and being overly fair to the DTH, they did cursorily mention the massive tuition increase in the closing sentences of the article (I might add that this mention came well off the front page, where all the praise for reduced fees was seen). The simple fact is, however, that the students of Chapel Hill are going to experience an increase in their expenses if either of these proposals is implemented.
The tuition increase would have the greatest effect on UNC students, so I will address it first. Carolina attracted one of the most competitive incoming freshman classes in recent history because we offered an amazing education at one of the best prices in the country at a time of great economic hardship. We can pontificate about the attractiveness of the “Carolina Way” or our first rate research facilities, which are both great, but if we are being honest, in an economy like ours, the primary attraction to this school for many prospective freshmen is its great value. If we were to adopt this tuition increase, we would necessarily reduce our competitive edge. Also, to those who argue that the cuts to higher education funding by the State House have inflicted an undue burden on Carolina academics and that this burden must be compensated for through other forms of income, I would point out that even if classroom funding were increased because of higher tuition, the educational experience of every student would be negatively impacted by the absence of intelligent students who could no longer enroll here because of the increased financial burden. Finally, with regard to tuition, I am not saying that there should be no tuition increase whatsoever. I am merely pointing out that a 40% increase (or 25% or 15% or 10% increases for that matter) is an extraordinary burden to expect a student population to bear, especially when our great value is what is attracting more students to us in the first place. There is usually a cap of a 6.5% increase in tuition each year, and any increase above that (which is about $455.52 this year) is too much.
Next, the sales tax would suck a projected $2.5 million out of the pockets of Orange County residents, and, even worse, it has already been defeated once before. In fact, the voters in Orange County have rejected multiple attempts to raise their taxes, but these have always been voted on in “big” election years, like 2008 or 2010, when voter turnout was expected to be high. Now, because the tax was mainly defeated by rural opposition in 2010, it has been re-proposed at a time when more conservative rural communities would not otherwise be voting while more liberal municipal communities would be going to vote for representatives for town governments. Even if you think that the county government should be increasing taxes on demand, (which doesn’t even make sense with Keynesian logic by the way) this tax needs to be defeated to send the message that Orange County residents do not appreciate being manipulated by their government. Finally, this tax would increase the financial burden on University students, albeit not as much as the tuition hikes would, and in a state that has been worse off than most during this recession, we should not allow for any government to make Chapel Hill a more difficult place to live for students who do not receive financial aid, parental, scholastic, or otherwise.
I’m not going to lie. Many Democrats have never found a government revenue source that they did not love; I have never found one that I did not loath. That said, the sales tax increase combined with the tuition increase will objectively increase the cost of being a Chapel Hill Student considerably. I don’t think anyone would argue that the net savings of $10.41 from student fees would make up for that massive increase, though the DTH might imply it.
The DTH had an article today (Friday, Nov. 4) about Student Body President Mary Cooper wanting to hear student input. I would urge anyone concerned about the tuition hikes to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I went to one of the tuition forums today and learned that the 40% figure reported by the DTH is unrealistic, and the impression that somehow tuition would rise that much in a year or two (which many people I have talked to got after their first time reading the article) does not seem to be on the table. You can text any questions you may have to 919-299-0195 and someone involved with giving the student perspective to the Board of Trustees will get back to you with an answer. Also, anyone interested, and in my opinion everyone should be, should attend a tuition forum. You can find all the times and locations here