WESTERN'S BOARD OF TRUSTEES                                                                                                              

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University's board of trustees approved Friday, Dec. 3, proposed tuition and fees for 2005-06, including a local tuition charge to help the number of professors and classes keep pace with growing student enrollment, move faculty salaries closer to the average of similar universities nationwide and address staff salary inequities.

Western's trustees approved the proposed schedule of fees during its quarterly meeting. Fees are subject to the approval of The University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

Western sets fees for the next academic year as early as possible to give students and their families reasonable time to prepare for the financial requirements of attending the university, said Chuck Wooten, vice chancellor for administration and finance, who presented the proposed fee schedule to the trustees.

With the proposed increases, costs to attend Western in 2005-06 would total $8,102 per year for a typical in-state student living on campus and choosing the most popular food service plan, an increase of $825.50 a year.

“Even with our proposed fee and tuition schedule, we would remain among the least expensive institutions in the UNC system,” Wooten said. “Western will continue to offer a quality education at a good cost.”

Citing figures from the College Board, Wooten told trustees that the average cost to attend a U.S. public four-year institution in 2004-05 is $14,640, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other out-of-pocket expenses. That compares to $9,894 at Western, when additional living expenses are included.

The Board of Governors adopted a policy in 2000 permitting campuses to propose local tuition surcharges to help meet special needs of the individual campuses. Currently, 12 of the 16 UNC campuses charge a local tuition fee greater than Western's, Wooten said. If approved by the UNC board, Western's local tuition fees would be used to address campus salary disparities, reduce dependence on part-time faculty members, increase the number of class section offerings and maintain the university's tradition of small class sizes, he said.

 “We are proposing a portion of local tuition be used to increase salary reserves for staff,” he said. “That would enable us to make salary adjustments for many employees who are lagging behind state and national averages after several years of inadequate raises. We continue to see the negative outcome of non-competitive salaries and benefits as we lose top employees to other entities and encounter difficulties recruiting new workers.”

A large chunk of the proposed $825.50 increase in fees is a $300 per year rise in the cost of on-campus housing. “Currently, our housing costs are substantially below all competitors,” Wooten said. “We are seeking the increase to allow us to build up our reserves so that we can renovate some of our existing older residence halls, even as we are building new facilities to meet the demands of our growing enrollment.”

Another significant increase is a proposed $100 hike in the education and technology fee, from $170 a year to $270. “We must constantly upgrade our technology to meet the needs of our students in the classrooms, computer laboratories and residence halls,” Wooten said. “We need to expand the capacity of our campus computer network and improve our student e-mail service.”

Among other proposed fee increases:

A $20 increase in the athletics fee, from $428 per year to $448, to meet the rising costs of scholarships and provide additional support for women's sports, including a new softball program that will begin in 2005-06.

A $6.50 increase in the student activities fees, from $395.50 per year to $402, to support additional social, cultural and recreational programming, and to help furnish and equip a new student recreation center, on which construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2005.

A $28 increase in the transportation fee, from $10 per year to $38, to provide funds to operate a campus shuttle service that began in fall 2004, including the purchase of additional buses and construction of shelters.

Parking fees would remain unchanged for students and staff. Debt service fees for construction of athletic facilities and expansion of the A.K. Hinds University Center would decrease, the result of rising student enrollment.

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Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2004
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