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Trustees OK tuition and fee increase

BOONE—Members of the Board of Trustees at Appalachian State University voted Friday to recommend a $389.26 increase in tuition for the 2012-13 academic year and a $136 increase in fees, raising in-state tuition and fees 10.6 percent from $4,953.74 to $5,479 for an in-state undergraduate student.

The trustees also recommended tuition and fee increases for out-of-state and graduate students.

The recommendations will be forwarded to the UNC Board of Governors for action at the board’s February 2012 meeting.

In addition to the tuition and fee increases, the board recommended increases in debt service fees, room and board, and miscellaneous service charges, such as the university’s book rental and transportation service charges, which do not require Board of Governors approval.

The increases would raise the total cost for an in-state undergraduate student residing on campus to $12,448, compared to the current year’s cost of $11,687.74.

The board voted 10 to 1 to approve the increase, after hearing an impassioned presentation from Student Government Association officers to limit the increase in tuition and fees to 6.5 percent. Student Government Association President Lauren Estes cast the dissenting vote. Two members of the board were absent from the December meeting.

In past years, UNC system schools were limited to a maximum 6.5 percent increase, but the Board of Governors granted permission for schools to “catch up” with peer institutions as well as recoup some funding lost to state budget cuts.

SGA members asked the board to consider phasing in increases over subsequent years to allow families to better prepare for the cost of sending their child to college.

“Appalachian is a place where people want to be and they want to walk away from this university a better person,” said SGA Vice President Mattie Hardin. “I would hate to have to turn people away because financially they cannot afford to come and experience the experience we all know.”

Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock spoke of the “bold actions” that had been taken on campus to address the state budget cuts, including reducing library hours, closing the Broyhill Inn and reducing operating funds for faculty and staff. “No one likes doing that, but it’s something we had to do,” he said.

Peacock said that while the increase in tuition and an education and technology fee will generate $6 million in revenue for the university’s academic budget, it “doesn’t scratch the surface of the $22.8 million cut in state funding” the university experienced this fall. “This (budget) situation is taking a toll on our staff, our faculty, our students, our administration,” he said. “I want to thank the trustees for making a tough call, for making a difficult decision.”