Saturday, April 20, 2024

UNCW trustees unanimous on tuition hike, meal plans and housing also go up

The UNCW Board of Trustees voted unanimously to increase tuition for all students except in-state undergrads on Dec. 15, 2023; the decision heads to the UNC System Board of Governors. (Port City Daily/Preston Lennon)

WILMINGTON — Some students attending UNCW will face their third straight year of tuition hikes following a Friday decision by the board of trustees.

READ MORE: Some UNCW students could see third consecutive tuition hike next year

The board was presented options of a 4%, 5% and 6% tuition increase. Staff requested the 5% increase for out-of-state undergraduates and all graduate students; the board unanimously voted to approve a 6% increase.

In-state undergrads will not see their tuition increase as part of an eight-year UNC System-wide freeze. However, their total cost of attendance could increase by 2.7%.

Mandatory fees are proposed to increase by $63 to cover wage hikes for campus recreation staff, enhance classroom technology, and cover inflationary raises for tech and educational supplies.

UNCW is also proposing a 6% increase — except for Seahawk Crossing at 7% — for on-campus housing costs. Both freshmen and sophomore students are required to live on campus.

This school year, UNCW had to house some students in common rooms, office spaces, and even hotels, due to enrolling more students than it has beds for.

UNCW’s residence hall cost, at a proposed average rate of $3,487 per semester, ranks the university fourth in most expensive housing in the UNC system behind UNC School of Arts at $4,200, UNC Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.

The university is also proposing a 5.4% increase in meal plans, which are mandatory purchases for first- and second-year students. UNCW would have the eighth highest plans in the UNC System.

The UNC Board of Governors has the final say in the cost changes. If approved, the changes would be in effect for the 2024-2025 school year.

According to UNCW spokesperson Andrea Weaver, the hike will generate “additional support for university priorities outlined in UNCW’s new strategic plan without placing an unreasonable burden on students and families.”

The school has identified $2.75 million in needs presented to the board of trustees. According to the university, the tuition increase will contribute $3,309,508 more to UNCW.

According to UNCW staff’s presentation, $1 million will go toward a new academic advising model and 12 more advising positions to ensure all undergraduates students have a professional academic advisor throughout their time at the university.

Funding is also needed to help cover start-up and expansion costs, specifically new hires and recruitment efforts, of critical workforce programs. This is projected at $950,000.

The university is also putting more emphasis on mental health needs, including $750,000 for the counseling center to hire additional clinical care providers and make salary adjustments in order to fill vacant positions and retain existing employees.

UNCW is looking to establish a peer educator program; $50,000 would be dedicated to hiring five peer educators and paying for their materials to be used at campus trainings and tabling events.

The board first discussed another raise in overall tuition at its October board meeting. At the time, the proposal was to increase out-of-state graduate and undergraduate tuition by more than $1,000. In-state graduate students would see a slight rise of roughly $250 per year, while in-state undergrads would not be impacted for the eighth year in a row.

The current cost of attendance for out-of-state undergrads is $42,603, compared to $27,030 for in-state. Grad students from outside North Carolina pay around $43,184, compared to $28,008 for in-state graduate students.

UNCW just received a $4 million penalty for exceeding its out-of-state enrollment cap. As set by the UNC System, the out-of-state student population is prohibited from exceeding 18%; UNCW’s total has been around 27%, or a little more than 200 students, for the last two years.

WUNC reported this is the largest enrollment cap penalty any UNC System school has been assessed, dating back to at least 2004.

UNC System policy states that if a school goes over the enrollment cap two years in a row, the university must be fined for the out-of-state student tuition overage.

The UNCW System board of governors will vote on the tuition increase at its February meeting.


Reach out to Brenna Flanagan at brenna@localdailymedia.com.

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