Cost of Attending WCU to Rise Next Year

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees approved a schedule of tuition and fees for the 2017-18 academic year that includes a 2 percent increase in tuition for students from North Carolina and a 3 percent increase in mandatory fees.

The proposal, unanimously approved by the board at its regular quarterly meeting Friday, Dec. 9, would mean a $78 annual increase in tuition for in-state undergraduate students and an $82 annual increase in mandatory fees.

The proposed schedule of tuition and fees must be approved by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to become effective.

The mandatory fee changes approved by WCU’s board, which total 3 percent, are:

* A $26 increase (3.6 percent) in the athletics fee to support federal- and state-mandated salary and benefits increases for athletics department employees, which are not supported by state dollars; increases in scholarship support for student-athletes; and inflationary expenses.

* A $10 increase (3.4 percent) in the health services fee to support the growing physical and mental health needs of a growing student body and to help cover inflationary expenses, including a 14 percent hike in the costs of prescription medications since 2014, the date of the last fee increase.

* A $46 increase (8 percent) in the student activity fee to help cover the rising costs of personnel expenses, including salary and benefits increases for Student Affairs employees that are not supported by state dollars; and to fund maintenance and renovations at student facilities such as A.K. Hinds University Center, the Campus Recreation Center and intramural fields.

In addition, the trustees authorized a $4 increase (1.38 percent) in the book rental surcharge, to help cover rising costs of textbooks. There will be no increases in fees for education and technology, transportation, sustainability, security and safety, documents and debt service for various campus construction projects.

The board also approved an increase of $87 in special tuition rates charged by academic programs that have a higher cost of operation. Those programs are certified registered nurse anesthetist, doctorate in physical therapy, communication sciences and disorders, doctorate in nursing practice, family nurse practitioner master’s degree and graduate degrees in the College of Business. The trustees authorized establishment of a new tuition differential fee for the master’s degree program in social work.

In addition, the board approved increases of approximately 4 percent in residence hall room rates to meet rising utility costs, prepare for adding housing capacity and continue renovations of existing facilities, and increases of approximately 3.25 percent in the cost of student meal plans to help meet the rising costs of food and food service personnel.

With the proposed changes, WCU’s annual total cost for tuition, mandatory fees, standard residence hall rates and the most-popular meal plan would be $15,395 per year (two semesters) for a typical N.C. undergraduate student, up $432 (2.88 percent) over current year costs.