WESTERN'S BOARD OF TRUSTEES                                                                                                              

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University's board of trustees approved Friday, Dec. 2, proposed tuition and fees for the 2006-07 academic year, including an additional fee to provide equipment and programming for a new student recreation center.

Western's trustees approved the proposed schedule of fees during its quarterly meeting. The fees, subject to the approval of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, are within the ceiling established by the UNC board earlier this year.

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 2006-07 would total $8,485 per year for a typical in-state student living on campus and choosing the most popular food service plan, an increase of $683 a year. “Even with the proposed fee and tuition schedule, Western would remain among the least expensive institutions in the UNC system. We believe we will continue to offer a quality education at a good cost,” Wooten said.

Citing figures from the College Board, Wooten told trustees that the average cost to attend a U.S. public four-year institution in 2005-06 is $15,366, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other out-of-pocket expenses. That compares to $11,021 at Western, when additional living expenses are included.

Among the increases is a new student activity fee of $80 that will allow the university to begin purchasing equipment and planning for activities for its new student recreation center, a $13.5 million, 73,000-square-foot facility being built adjacent to Reid Gymnasium. University officials broke ground on the project in October.

When completed, the recreation center will include two multipurpose courts, a climbing wall, a 9,800-square-foot area for strength training and cardiovascular equipment, a three-lane indoor track, a 2,500-square-foot group exercise studio, fitness assessment rooms, locker rooms and administrative offices. The facility, designed with significant input from students, is in keeping with the university's goal of creating a lifetime relationship with its students, Chancellor John W. Bardo said.

Also among the approved fees are increases ranging from $92 to $416 per year in the cost of on-campus housing, with the largest increases for single occupancy rooms. “Our housing costs have been substantially below similar institutions, and we need to build up our reserves so we can renovate some of our older residence halls to help meet the needs of today's students and to keep pace with our enrollment growth,” Wooten said. The university is studying the redesign of two residence halls – Helder and Leatherwood – located near the center of campus.

Among other proposed fee increases:

- A $23 increase in the education and technology fee, from $270 a year to $293, for technology upgrades in classrooms, computer laboratories and residence halls, including expansion of the capacity of the campus computer network and improvements to student e-mail service.

- A $22 increase in the athletics fee, from $448 per year to $470, to meet the rising costs of scholarships and provide additional support for women's sports, including a new softball program that begins play in the spring.

- A $7 increase in the transportation fee, from $38 per year to $45, to provide funds to operate a campus shuttle service that began in fall 2004, including the 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 by $10 a year, the result of rising student enrollment.

The board also approved a mandatory health insurance plan for all full-time undergraduate and graduate students who do not have comparable coverage under family or other plans. The $596 cost of the plan would be divided into payments for fall and spring semester, and could be factored into a student's financial aid considerations, Wooten said. About 27 percent of students who do not have health insurance would be impacted.

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Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2005
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