Trustees talk finances during regular meeting
By Jeannine Manning Hutson
The East Carolina University Board of Trustees tackled two hot button issues during their regular board meeting Nov. 19 and 20.
The trustees debated the pros and cons of raising tuition and fees and heard a proposed increase in parking fees for faculty, staff and students on campus.
The current N.C. law states that UNC system schools are held to the General Assembly’s mandate that stated 2010-11 tuition must be raised for in-state undergraduate $200 or 8 percent, whichever is less. Revenue from that tuition increase does not stay with the universities, as it had in the past, but must be sent to the state’s General Fund.
Under this law, ECU’s trustees can determine the increase amount for non-residents. If the current law is not rescinded, then in-state undergraduates and all graduate students will pay $200 more, however, out-of-state undergraduate students will pay 6.6 percent more, or $880, for the 2010-11 academic year.
If current law is rescinded and General Assembly allows campuses to set tuition rates, then in-state undergraduates will pay $90 more or 3.61% for academic year 2010-11 and the tuition for graduate students will increase as well, $108 for in-state and $479 for out-of-state students.
ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said during the meeting that he is not optimistic that the General Assembly will give the power to set tuition back to the UNC-system universities any time soon.
All students will pay $80 in additional fees to support athletics, education/technology and transit operations.
In addition to campus tuition and fee increases, students living on campus will see about $100 increase in room rates and dining plans will increase between $70-$100.
During Thursday’s working lunch, Research and Graduate Studies Vice Chancellor Deidre Mageean reminded trustees that many of ECU’s graduate students compare the university with programs across the country when deciding where to apply and attend. The cost of the program may play a large part of their decision, she said.
Fifty percent of the undergraduate tuition increase will be used for need-based financial aid and the remaining funds will be designated for enhancing the student academic experience, including academic advising, student retention, the Pirate Tutoring Center, the Freshman Immersion Program, and additional COAD sections.
The proposed increase to undergraduate tuition factored in the 2008 Higher Education Price Index. The index is an inflation index designed to track the main cost drivers in higher education.
“We used the Higher Education Price Index to find a way or metric that would make sense to use as a basis of increase. We used that as part of our study along with looking at past history (of increases),” said Kevin Seitz, vice chancellor for administration and finance, during Thursday’s working lunch discussing a proposal to increase tuition and fees.
“The chancellor asked us to look at the entire cost of education,” he said. “He felt there had been many large increases in recent years.”
The chancellor reminded the board members that whatever increase they voted on would be coupled for some students with the mandatory “hard waiver” insurance requirement next year. Students who are not covered by another health insurance policy will be required by the UNC system to purchase insurance. For most students, that will be several hundred dollars. That amount will not be known until the spring because the UNC system will be seeking bids for that coverage.
Trustee Robert Brinkley noted during the full board discussion on the proposed tuition increase that “the university must walk a delicate balance of being an access university and a successful university.”
ECU ranks 13 out of 16 peer institutions, ranking highest to lowest, out-of-state student tuition rates. In the UNC system, ECU ranks in the middle for in-state tuition.
During the hour-long discussion on Friday, Chairman David Brody said, “This is one of the most difficult decisions we make every year.”
In the end, the proposal to increase tuition and fees passed and David Redwine said, “I don’t think we are trying to punish out of state students, they are a great asset to this institution, but they are still getting a great bargain.”
The other increase on campus will be for parking fees.
The biggest change will be for faculty and staff who have a C parking sticker. That classification will end when those stickers expire June 30, 2010; those employees will then purchase B-stickers.
The biggest increase is for the reserved parking permits, which will change from $408 to $480, or 8.5 percent.
Other changes include: Faculty/Staff A Zone from $312 to $336; Student/Resident A Zone from $312 to $336; and Commuter-Student from $84 to $96.
Faculty/Staff B Zone will remain at $156, and a Freshman sticker will remain at $240.
The trustees also received a report from Mickey Dowdy, vice chancellor for advancement, on the Second Century Campaign. The total now stands at $152.7million.
Also, the board approved the site elevations for the soccer stadium, which will be part of the Olympics Sports Complex. Construction has already begun on the softball stadium.