BOONE — The University of North Carolina system Board of Governors held its March meetings at Appalachian State University March 21-22 and voted to approve tuition and fee rates at UNC campuses for the 2019-20 academic year.
Per the BOG’s recommendation, Appalachian State did not recommend an undergraduate tuition increase for the 2019-20 year, nor did it increase graduate tuition.
But the university did recommended fee increases, which are capped by the BOG at no more than 3 percent each year.
The approved fee increases include a $23 increase in the athletics fee to $778 per year, a $10 increase in the ed, rec & REI (student activities) fee to $386 per year and a $3 increase in the cultural affairs fee to $45 per year.
ASU had also proposed an $84 increase — from $14 to $98 — in the infrastructure improvement debt service fee, to help the university set aside funds for repairs and renovations. The recommended debt service fees also included a decrease in the athletics facilities debt service fee of $30 (to a yearly $215), resulting in a net $54 proposed debt service fee increase.
But since that time, according to ASU spokesperson Megan Hayes, “the BOG has developed a comprehensive request to the North Carolina legislature for the UNC system to provide money to constituent institutions for the same purpose. Should this be approved we would not need the $54 fee increase we proposed, so we deferred our request until that process is completed.”
Hayes confirmed that there would be no change in the debt service fees for 2019-20, including the previously proposed $30 reduction in athletic debt service fees.
That brings total in-state undergraduate student tuition and fees at Appalachian to $7,250 for the 2019-20 year, which is fifth highest among the 16 UNC campuses that serve undergraduates.
General Statute §116-143.9 required that, beginning with the fall 2016 semester, tuition rates at all UNC institutions would be fixed for eight consecutive semesters for all resident bachelor’s degree-seeking freshmen. In addition, tuition rates for other currently enrolled resident undergraduates and eligible transfer students would be fixed for an appropriate number of consecutive semesters, according to the UNC system.
The BOG recommended that campuses propose no increase in in-state undergraduate tuition rates for the 2019-20 year but did approve tuition increases for graduate professional school programs at eight universities, Appalachian not included.
Before voting to approve the fee changes, however, several board members expressed concerns over the continued rise in fees across the system, indicating that with the recent system-initiated freezes on tuition, many campuses have been seeking the maximum increase in fees each year.
Board member Thom Goolsby raised concerns about rising student debt and suggested that universities be cosigners on student loans.
David Green, chair of the UNC Faculty Assembly, recommended greater use of online materials to reduce the costs of books for students.
Some board members indicated they would like to see more flexibility on the current caps on non-resident freshmen.
The BOG also approved appointments to boards of trustees across the UNC system, with board members Anna Spangler Nelson and Pearl Burris-Floyd urging the board to seek greater representation of women and minorities in their board appointments.
Burris-Floyd noted that in 2017, of the board’s 73 appointments, 52 were male, while 21 were female. She indicated that since then there has been a gradual improvement in those proportions — by about 2 percent.
“There’s no doubt that we need to improve,” said BOG Chair Harry Smith.
Board member David Powers further noted that amongst the BOG, more than half had ties to two UNC institutions.