WCU out-of-state students get 6 percent tuition increase

Western Carolina University Board of Trustee approved tuition increase for the 2014 curricular year. For in-state students the financial aspects of the increase are affordable. For out-of-state students, it is the new make or break to attend WCU.

Right now for the Fall ’13 and Spring ’14 semesters at WCU they are more than affordable with Financial Aid. In-state students only end up paying $3927.50 while out of state students pay $8726.00; more than double what in-state students pay. No it may not sound like a lot but with the new raise in tuition it makes out-of-state students pay more than $10,000 per semester.

For WCU student Paige Diemer, this increase came at a good time.

“I’m originally from Florida so there is no way I can get out of paying out of state tuition,” she said while chuckling about what she pays already. “I am very fortunate to not have to pay the increase since I graduate May of 2014. If I had to stay another semester or year, I would definitely have a hard time paying back my student loans.”

Unfortunately there is nothing that the school can do. This increase is coming from the state. Since WCU is part of the 17 schools in the UNC system, we have to stay within the state funding. Without the increased tuition, as Chancellor David Belcher explained, WCU would not be able to keep up with the rest of the UNC system.

“It was not our decision. State legislature decided to raise out-of-state tuition and without the increase we would not be able to withstand the economy,” said Belcher.

Belcher also discussed how out-of-state students are getting a 6 percent increase while other schools in the UNC system are getting a 12 percent increase. The system took an amount equivalent to our budget so that they can fund other areas in times of crisis.

Out-of-state student Victoria Chastain has been at WCU for four years. While changing her major was a great personal decision, it may have altered her financial decision.

“I am a full time student and work 20 hours a week. It is difficult to even put gas in my car. I understand that an increase is necessary but why do students that come from out-of-state have to pay so much?” asks Chastain.

The new tuition increase will affect around 2000 WCU students who are out-of-state. Students come from at least 48 states do not sound too excited about the increase. But on the other hand, other schools cost more than 3 times of Western. The increase is small but students are sure to feel the burden next fall.

Out-of-state students are not the only ones feeling the pressure. WCU also holds international and students wanting to take only online classes. While out-of-state students are now paying about $12,000 per semester (with housing and dining), students taking classes online pay almost $8,000 only in classes. That is almost exactly the same as in state students.

In-state students currently pay about $7,500 per semester at WCU. That includes a meal plan, health insurance and a student’s dorm. Students taking online classes are paying $468.35 per hour. In total that is $1,405.05. For a semester of 15 credit hours that totals up to $7,025.25.

Tuition can be confusing for students and an increase does not help a number of students that now attend WCU. The economy is not great and while we have to keep up with the UNC system, it seems more like a burden to the out-of-state students.

Tyana Johnson contributed to the story.