UNC spending of tuition revenue on need-based aid to stay flat in 2017-18

As a percentage cap imposed by its Board of Governors takes deeper hold, the UNC system’s 16 universities aren’t likely to spend much more of their tuition revenue on financial aid for low- and middle-income students in 2017-18 than they do now, a report from the public university system says.

System officials estimate that North Carolina’s 16 public universities will channel about $207.3 million into “need-based” aid, an increase of $546,660 and 0.26 percent over figures from 2016-17.

Five campuses — Fayetteville State, N.C. A&T State, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte and the UNC School of the Arts — expect to use slightly more tuition revenue on student aid in the coming year. The rest are keeping their allocations flat and four, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, Elizabeth City State and Winston-Salem State, are under orders to keep them flat until they’re under the board’s cap.

Board members decided in 2014 to bar all the campuses from devoting more than 15 percent of their tuition revenue to need-based aid. Supporters of the policy argued it removes an incentive for the universities to increase tuition, and that the use of tuition for need-based aid is an improper form of income redistribution.

Capped though it is, UNC-Chapel Hill will continue to use $66.2 million of tuition money to support aid programs in 2017-18. That’s likely a fair fraction of all the money it plows into scholarships and other aid programs. Overall, auditors say it supplied $102.9 million in tuition discounts to students in 2015-16.

It’s likely to be at least a couple more years before the Chapel Hill campus gets under the 15 percent benchmark, as it’s on track to spend 19.4 percent of its tuition money on need-based aid in 2017-18. When the board imposed the cap, Chancellor Carol Folt’s institution was using nearly 21 percent of its tuition revenue on aid.

N.C. State is almost back under the cap, as its nearly $45 million allocation…

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