Tuition increases in the UNC system
Posted by George Leef at 08:32 AM
According to this story in the News and Observer, the NC Center for Public Policy is raising the alarm over possible lawsuits against the UNC system for its tuition increases in recent years -- 71 percent from 1999 to 2004. The state constitution has a provision stating that the cost of attending UNC should be kept "as low as practicable" and every time tuition is increased, we hear people complaining that the new tuition level is unconstitutionally high.
Should UNC really worry about this? I don't think so. Despite all the talk, no one has sued over previous tuition increases and I suspect that's because no lawyer wants to take on this loser. The "as low as practicable" language can only mean that the legislature is charged with making the decision on how high tuition needs to be given the totality of the state's fiscal situation. I find it very hard to believe that any judge, much less an appellate court, would so overstep the boundary between judicial and legislative authority as to say, "No, the tuition level that has been set is not as low as practicable and it must be lowered by $500."
Keep in mind also that while the 71 percent increase figure seems very high, the increases in tuition are based on a low starting point. North Carolina has had and continues to have one of the most highly subsidized state university systems in the country, requiring low and middle income workers to pay taxes to help give the kids of wealthy families a huge bargain in the cost of attending Chapel Hill, NC State, UNC-Charlotte, and other state universities.
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