When a School Tries to act like a school
When I submitted my last blog When a School acts like a School to my fellow bloggers for review one person commented, “I wonder how long they’ll be able to do that.”
This month’s Carolina Alumni Review shows how prophetic the comment was. Following elections that resulted in a Republican majority in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly, the membership of the Board of Governors for state universities changed from 19 Republicans, 12 Democrats and 2 unaffiliated members to 29 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 2 unaffiliated members and 2 members whose political affiliation could not be determined.
One issue important to the new board was concern that full-paying families are helping to carry the load for those who qualify for financial aid. Constituents apparently thought that was a bad idea. I am reminded of a family member and devout Christian who commented on extending health care to those who could not afford it, “I’ve got mine. Why should I care about them?” Although I am not a biblical scholar, I am unable to come up with a quote from Jesus about getting your needs met and not bothering with the needs of others.
The board set a limit of 15% on how much tuition revenue could be spent on need-based student financial aid.
The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and four other campuses are already above the limit so the revenue they spend on aid is frozen until tuition hikes rise high enough that the funds allocated fall within 15% of tuition. For every student who qualifies for the Carolina Covenant (family of origin income at of less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines) and who could expect to graduate debt-free, there are currently almost three students who receive some financial assistance. All students receiving aid will be affected.
43% of students qualify for and receive financial aid. The average debt accrued to graduating seniors is $17,000, well below the national average. However, with aid capped, students will have to borrow money so their indebtedness will increase.
Academic quality of students could change. Acceptance to UNC is made without reference to family income, if students qualifying for need-based aid were excluded from school average SAT scores would drop from 1308 to 1278, percentage of students who were in the top 10% of their class would drop from 77% to 62%, percentage of students who were valedictorians or salutatorians would drop from 14% to 9%, and percentage of students who were the first in their families to go to college would drop from 19% to 9%.
Also, underrepresented minority students would drop from 18% to 9%. Of course it is too early to know what exactly will happen but according to Shirley Ort, director of scholarships and student aid, it is likely the university will be less available for students for families with limited financial resources. Officials hope fund-raising campaigns seeking private donations for student aid are planned.
Chancellor Carol L Folt said, “…affordability and accessibility are central to our mission.”
I hope that mission will continue.