By Jenna A. Robinson
Last week, the UNC System released the agenda and materials for the today’s committee meetings of the UNC Board of Governors at Fayetteville State University. Looking through the documents has revealed a few things:
The Good: UNC School of the Arts and NC State University should be congratulated for retiring portions of their debt and decreasing their debt service fees. NCSU plans to eliminate the debt service fee of $45 associated with the Carmichael Gym Expansion, as the debt has been retired. UNCSA plans to eliminate the $200 debt service fee associated with Hanes Commons, as the debt has been retired. This is good news for students—provided that the schools do not immediately take on new debt.
The Bad: The UNC System submitted its draft budget to the General Assembly without first showing it to the Board. (The Board will be asked to approve a “final” budget at some future date.)
The system’s “policy priorities,” which go into creating the budget, include a 1.52 percent increase in enrollment funding, more than $60 million in faculty and staff raises, a request to eliminate a cap on using state funds for private fundraising, and $18 million for “innovative intervention strategies” to improve completion rates.
The Ugly: An audit of the Financial and Administration and Office of Admissions at Elizabeth City State University revealed serious deficiencies:
- Students were admitted to ECSU for fall 2015 who did not meet minimum admission requirements (MAR) for the UNC system (2.5 GPA and 800 combined SAT).
- Fifteen percent of enrolled new freshmen were not admissible by minimum admission requirements. Financial aid in the amount of $488,329 was awarded to the 35 freshmen that did not meet MAR. Of the 35, three received athletic scholarships.
- Completion of minimum course requirements could not be verified in 25 percent of enrolled students.
- Adequate criminal background checks on students were either not documented or not performed.
- Employees do not have a clear understanding of guidelines for administering various financial aid programs.
- Ineligible students received scholarships from the NC State Education Assistance Authority.
- Athletic scholarships are unregulated. Documentation, training, policies, and procedures were all found lacking.
Jenna A. Robinson is president of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.