Out of state? Out of luck: raising tuition on out-of-state students

Anthony Harrison, Staff Writer
April 19, 2013
Filed under Opinion

Early in my collegiate career, I attended Appalachian State University. I didn’t do terribly well, but while there, I met some amazing people, some of whom were from Tennessee or Virginia.

One of those people was Matt McMahon, a current Ph.D. student in economics at the University of Tennessee.

“(Appalachian State) really appealed to me,” said McMahon. “I fell in love with the campus and the type of people who seemed to go there. I wanted to get out into the world and experience a change of pace, and Appalachian State seemed to be a perfect place for me to do that.”

Currently, out-of-state students pay nearly $8,000 to attend University of North Carolina system schools. Despite the cost, they decided to attend these schools for good reason: North Carolina has a tradition of academic excellence, exemplified by schools such as UNC, Duke and NC State University.

However, after rewarding his cabinet with eight percent raises in January, Governor Pat McCrory lobbied for raising out-of-state tuition by six percent in order to counter a $138 million budget cut his spoiled administration wishes to employ. Additionally, McCrory wants to raise out-of-state tuition by 12.3 percent in six UNC-system schools charging lower rates for out-of-state tuition than others: UNC School of the Arts, NC A&T, NC State, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington and UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Out-of-state students are a significant source of revenue for public institutions,” said Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Andrew Strickler. “If you are going to cut a state subsidy (…) then additional revenue needs to be generated. Option A would be to enroll more out-of-state students at the same price, (while) Option B would be to enroll the same number of out-of-state students at a higher rate of tuition.”

What I can’t understand is why McCrory wishes to make education in this state unaffordable to students who want to learn here. We at The Guilfordian have already covered how McCrory disdains liberal arts education. He insists the UNC system is broken and throwing money at our problems can’t solve them.

But are these problems solved by slashing our education budget at the jugular and making education less accessible to bright minds? Furthermore, what if this raise in out-of-state tuition doesn’t offset the proposed cuts?

“If the state system is unable to generate the same amount of revenue from out-of-state students, then there is a possibility that in-state tuition rates would have to rise somewhat significantly,” said Strickler.

If tuition rises so drastically for UNC-system schools, we potentially lose many students who would gladly tout one of our schools as their alma mater.

“I don’t know if I really could’ve afforded (tuition at that price),” said McMahon. “An increase of that magnitude would’ve played much more significantly into my decision.”

McMahon could have attended the University of Tennessee while receiving a stipend of a few hundred dollars per semester as an undergrad, yet he decided to attend a UNC-system school.

My point in including him in this piece is that these tuition increases are more than a budgetary concern. In-state students like myself may never meet wonderful people from different walks of life and cultures if high tuition keeps them away from attending our schools.

I’m no fiscal genius, but I think there are ways of raising revenue for the state other than cutting our education budget. Perhaps we should spare the rod and spoil the figurative child, not the victors of political contests.

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