When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

27 February 2005

Shut up and fork over the fifty bucks already

Over at SwaggerSays, enrevanche buddy BobLee posts about the furor du jour at our mutual alma mater: an attempt to raise athletic fees by (gasp) $50. (See, for instance, this editorial in the Daily Tar Heel.)

As BobLee hisownself rightly points out:
A $50 increase put into perspective is 3.5 large pizzas OR two tanks of gas in a PT Cruiser OR a 10 oz jar of face cream from Sephora.
I would like to break it down for you just a little further, however. Stay with me, now, 'cause I'm going to run the numbers.

Total tuition and fees for the 2004-2005 Academic year, for UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduates taking a full load of courses (12+ credit hours per semester) is as follows:

NC Residents: $2225.26 per semester, or $4450.52 per year
Out of state: $8774.26 per semester, or $17,548.52 per year

(Source: UNC Cashier's Office.)

According to the College Board the average costs at four-year undergraduate institutions in the US are as follows:

Four-year private $20,082 (up 6 percent from last year)
Four-year public $5,132 (up 10.5 percent from last year)

Now, remember, these costs are the averages for all colleges and universities in the country, and for many of these, to paraphrase Paul Fussell, the resemblance to an actual institution of higher learning is purely architectural.

The UNC Board of Trustees wants to kick tuition up by $200 a year and student fees by $50 (for in-state students.) For those of you doing the math at home, that's a 5.6% increase (about half the national average for public institutions, I cannot help adding.)

Still with me? Okay. Now factor in:

UNC is on everybody's short list of the best public universities in the nation. Even when compared with private universities it always shows up in the "most selective" ranks and near the top of the overall heap.

For example, the US News 2005 colleges survey, just out this week, ranks UNC at #29 nationally overall, ahead of such august institutions as New York University and the University of Wisconsin and in the same range with Georgetown and UCLA.

(Okay, my wife, the Harvard grad, is entitled to look down her nose at me a little, but I ask you - when's the last time Harvard had an NCAA Men's Basketball team in serious contention in the post-season? That's right: Never.)

In sum:

The (heavily taxpayer-subsidized) tuition and fees at UNC are an incredible bargain, maybe one of the Best Buys available today in higher education, particularly for in-state residents.

(Try taking your $4450 and change up the road to Duke University and see how far it gets you.)

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