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Campus Life

New Tuition Rules Impact Financial Aid

The court of North Carolina.

NC State’s pool of resources for students who need help paying for their tuition is well-stocked for the moment, but when new guidelines adopted by the UNC Board of Governors kick in next year, some who search for financial aid could come up a little short.

The new guidelines, adopted in early August to be implemented for the 2015-16 academic year, will put a limit on tuition-funded financial aid and cap tuition increases at 5 percent annually.

New Limits

The financial aid limitations involve the portion of tuition increases that is set aside for students in need of financial assistance. Currently, more than 25 percent of all tuition increases are set aside for financial aid. The new cap is 15 percent.

According to Krista Domnick, director of the Office of Scholarship and Financial Aid, NC State currently exceeds the 15 percent cap for future funding, which means it cannot set aside additional tuition revenues for need-based financial aid until that threshold is no longer exceeded.

“NC State students are fortunate that the university has had a long-standing commitment to needy students and has invested in this important resource over time,” Domnick says. “So there’s a pool of funding still available to assist students in need. While additional revenues cannot be set aside at present, NC State continues to offer a quality but affordable education.”

For the 2013-14 academic year, about 69 percent of NC State students applied for financial aid and 53 percent demonstrated financial need, Domnick said. Those percentages won’t likely change, but there will likely be less money available for students with demonstrable financial need.

“The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid has a capable and talented staff of professional financial aid counselors that continue to be available to help families understand the costs and identify resources to make an NC State education accessible for them,” Domnick says.

Capping Tuition Increases

The 5 percent cap on tuition increases will also go into effect for 2015-16, but that may not be the benefit to students that it seems, according to NC State student body president Rusty Mau. Over the last five years, tuition has increased by 44 percent while state spending per student has fallen by 13 percent. With a 5 percent annual raise in tuition prices, tuition will essentially double every 14 years.

“Our state will no longer be a leader in providing affordable higher education to its residents if we continue down this path,” Mau wrote in a June opinion piece in The News & Observer of Raleigh.

Mau, a Park Scholar who is pursuing a master’s degree in higher education finance, understands the economics of rising prices, but is troubled by the coinciding reductions in state funding.

“It’s a downward spiral we have already started,” Mau said in an interview.