Standard Operating Procedures

Requesting Premium Tuition for Graduate and Professional Programs

Effective February 1, 2016

According to UNC General Administration policy (I. 3. “Graduate and Professional Tuition” Policy Manual 1000.1.1), premium tuition may be considered for graduate and graduate professional programs. The following procedure is based on the recommendations of the Premium Tuition for Targeted Master’s Programs Implementation Team, which was established as a result of the Strategic Resource Management Process. The Implementation Team also recommended the creation of the Premium Tuition Committee to manage the premium tuition proposal process.

Premium Tuition Committee

The Premium Tuition Committee (PTC) consists of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Strategy and Resource Management, Dean of the Graduate School (or designee), University Budget Director (or designee), two faculty members (faculty may include directors of graduate programs and department heads) with experience in writing premium tuition proposals and at least one student.

The PTC is charged with:

  • Providing oversight of the premium tuition proposal and review process,
  • Evaluating proposal abstracts and determining whether or not they should continue to the full proposal stage,
  • Evaluating full proposals and offering advice for improvement as appropriate and
  • Determining which proposals should be submitted to the Provost for approval and which should be discontinued.

Procedure for Requesting Premium Tuition for Graduate and Professional Programs

First-time proposals for premium tuition require all of the steps below. For programs with existing premium tuition proposing to increase tuition, begin with step 3.

  1. Program faculty submit a proposal abstract to the Provost’s Office (for review by the PTC) that is endorsed by the appropriate department head and dean for departmental programs or by the appropriate dean(s) for non-departmental programs. Proposal abstracts should answer the following questions:
    • What is the need that is driving the request for premium tuition?
    • How would the premium tuition be used to make substantial improvements to the program? Please be specific.
    • What is the present return on investment attained by students in the program and/or the projected return on investment supplied by the premium tuition?
    • How does current tuition compare to similar programs in peer universities, and how would tuition compare with those universities with premium tuition in place?
  2. PTC decides on the basis of the abstract, a meeting with the faculty involved and discussion with the Provost to (a) to encourage advancement to proposal stage or (b) discourage any further work on the proposal.
  3. If PTC approves the abstract, or if the request is for an increase to an existing premium tuition, faculty write a full proposal in accordance with A Guide to Writing a Proposal for Premium Tuition (below) and submit the proposal to the Provost’s Office (for review by the PTC) after it is endorsed by the appropriate department head and dean for departmental programs or by the appropriate dean(s) for non-departmental programs.
  4. PTC evaluates the proposal and (a) approves the proposal as it is, (b) returns it to the faculty for further work or (c) determines (in consultation with the Provost) that the proposal should not be pursued and asks faculty to cease work on it.
  5. If the PTC approves a proposal, it is submitted to the Provost. The Provost (a) approves the proposal as it is, (b) returns it to the PTC for further work or (c) determines that the proposal should not be pursued and asks the PTC to cease working on it.
  6. If the Provost approves the proposal, it is submitted to the Tuition Review Advisory Committee (TRAC). The TRAC (a) approves the proposal as it is or (b) rejects the proposal.
  7. If the TRAC approves the proposal, it is submitted to the Chancellor. The Chancellor (a) approves the proposal as it is or (b) rejects the proposal.
  8. If the Chancellor approves the proposal, it is submitted to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees (a) approves the proposal as it is or (a) rejects the proposal.
  9. If the Board of Trustees approves the proposal, it is submitted to UNC General Administration for approval by the Board of Governors.

Timeline for the Proposal Review and Approval Process

In August 2014, the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) approved a four-year tuition plan for 2015-2016 through 2018-2019. During this period, approval of tuition increases by the BOG, including premium tuition increases, will be on a biennial schedule.

  • In the year prior to the biennium (academic year 2016-2017 for 2017-2019 biennium example), existing or newly created programs may submit proposals for new or increased premium tuition to be implemented in the fall of the first year (fall 2017) or second year (fall 2018) of the biennium.
  • In the first year of the biennium (academic year 2017-2018 for 2017-19 biennium example), only newly created programs may submit proposals for new premium tuition to be implemented in the fall of the second year (fall 2018) of the biennium.

The Premium Tuition Proposal Procedure applies to all NC State graduate and graduate professional programs (current and under development) requesting first-time premium tuition or an increase to existing premium tuition.

Schedule for Current Programs

Approx. Dates
Actions
January/February
Provost’s Office announces opportunity to submit proposal abstracts for premium tuition and provides timeline with dates
March/April
Programs submit proposal abstracts to the Provost for review by the PTC and PTC notifies programs of results of its review
May
Programs submit final full proposals to Provost for review by PTC and PTC reviews proposals
June
PTC notifies program of results of the review and sends approved proposals to Provost
Early August
Provost reviews proposals and notifies PTC and program of results of review
Late August
Provost sends approved proposals to TRAC for review
October
TRAC completes review and recommends proposals to the Chancellor for review
Late October
Chancellor reviews proposals and sends recommendations to the Board of Trustees
November
Board of Trustees reviews proposals and NC State sends recommendations to UNC GA for review
January
UNC GA presents proposals to Board of Governors for approval
August
Premium tuition for programs is implemented, if approved

Key Dates for Implementation of New or Increased Premium Tuition in Fall 2017 or Fall 2018

  • April 15, 2016 – Proposal abstracts for first-time premium tuition due to Retta Clemons (rclemons@ncsu.edu) in the Provost’s Office
  • Late April 2016 – Faculty/programs notified of outcome of abstract review by PTC
  • May 27, 2016 – Full premium tuition premium proposals due to Retta Clemons (rclemons@ncsu.edu) in the Provost’s Office
  • June 2016 – Faculty/programs notified of outcome of PTC’s proposal review
  • Early August 2016 – Faculty/programs notified of outcome of Provost’s proposal review
  • August 2016 to January 2017 – Proposals under review by TRAC, Chancellor, BOT, UNC-GA and BOG. Faculty/programs will be informed as their proposals proceed forward.
  • August 2017 – Premium tuition implemented for approved programs

Schedule for New Programs

New programs under development now or in the future wishing to charge premium tuition should contact the Office of the Provost to discuss the coordination of the premium tuition proposal review process with the completion of a Request for Authorization to Plan or a Request for Authorization to Establish.

A Guide to Writing a Proposal for Premium Tuition

According to UNC General Administration policy (I. 3. “Graduate and Professional Tuition” Policy Manual 1000.1.1), premium tuition proposals for graduate and graduate professional programs submitted by campuses should (1) supply evidence that students of the affected programs have been consulted [possible strategy: discuss plans with the leadership of the appropriate Graduate Student Association], (2) show that the increased tuition will be used to maintain or enhance the excellence of the programs while assuring access to them, and (3) to the extent possible, provide full tuition remission to graduate assistants in order to increase the competitiveness of the program in recruiting.1

1 We interpret this to refer to a subset of students identified either by merit or financial need.

The policy lists nine items (A through I) that should be considered in creating and approving proposals. Faculty writing a proposal are encouraged to address each of these items after an introduction. The guidelines below describe how to write a proposal for premium tuition, including suggestions for responding to items A-I. You will also create a budget for your proposal using Form A.

Introduction

  • Background for the program necessary for placing the premium tuition proposal in context
  • A brief description of what has created the need for premium tuition
  • A brief description of what the program will use the premium tuition for

A. The anticipated impact of the proposed tuition premium on program quality

Ideal effect: Increased tuition would lead to substantial improvements in the quality of the program for students.

Possible strategies:

  • Demonstrate that there are aspects of the program that need to be improved to benefit students and that increased funding could address those issues leading to significant advantages for students.
  • For some programs, an alternative is to show that the program is strong (e.g., by demonstrating that demand is strong and starting salaries are high) and provides substantial benefits to students but that it cannot be sustained at current funding levels; then describe what additional benefits would accrue to students.
  • Another alternative is to benchmark the program against competing programs and show what the program needs in order to be competitive with the other programs.

B. The projected impact of increased tuition on access for North Carolina residents

Ideal effect: An increase in tuition would not significantly reduce access to residents or would expand access.

Possible strategies:

  • Compare time to recover the cost of tuition after employment before and after tuition increase, showing that it is reasonable.
  • Compare in-state tuition to similar institutions before and after tuition increase.
  • Show that part of the tuition increase will be set aside for financial aid to students with financial need, referring to Section C for details.

C. The availability of student financial aid for students with economic need and of tuition remission

Ideal effect: Premium tuition would increase the availability of financial aid to students who need it.

Possible strategies:

  • Explain the plan to provide for financial aid and describe details of the plan.
  • Compare the difference in program-based financial aid before and after the increased tuition, demonstrating that there is more after.
  • Describe other sources of financial support in the department that could go to low-income students in the program, such as teaching and research assistantships and fellowships.
  • Describe the current model of tuition remission and any changes that would occur after increased tuition (note: premium tuition is not covered by the Graduate Student Support Plan, which means that it is not paid through tuition remission; premium tuition must be paid by student or department).

D. The extent to which current and prospective students can afford increases in tuition

Ideal effect: Current and prospective students would be able to afford the rise in tuition.

Possible strategies:

  • Present the starting salaries of recent graduates and show that they favorably compare with those of other professions.
  • Compare time to recover the cost of tuition after employment before and after tuition increase, showing that it is reasonable.
  • Show that return on investment is high.
  • Describe indebtedness of students in the program, to demonstrate that it is not high in comparison to return on investment, e.g., the time to pay off student loans before and after tuition increase (for information on student indebtedness contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid).

E. The relationship between projected tuition revenue to institutional and/or program costs

Ideal effect: The increase in tuition would not unduly increase institutional and/or program costs.

Possible strategies:

  • Show that costs to the institution for managing financial aid and tuition and other support will be minimal.
  • Describe any costs to the program beyond what will be funded by the premium tuition.
  • Demonstrate that the increased tuition will cover all or nearly all of the costs related to the changes supported by the increase.

F. Tuition and fees, net of remissions and waivers, charged by peer institutions or programs as compared to tuition and fees, net of remissions, for the program (the public subsidy received by students at public institutions or programs in the peer set, including the program in question, will also be identified as part of the comparison)

Ideal effect: The current tuition and fees (net remissions and waivers) are low in comparison to similar programs at peer institutions and would not become inordinately high in the same comparison if the proposed tuition increase were implemented

Possible strategies:

  • Compare tuition and fees with similar programs among peer institutions before and after the increase in tuition, demonstrating that the latter is still comparatively low
  • Include in the comparison the levels of public subsidy for all the public universities in the comparison including that of NC State.

G. A plan for the intended use of additional tuition receipts (e.g., needed improvements to the educational program, funding for competitive salary increases, financial aid, etc.)

Ideal effect: The proposers have a clear and detailed plan for the use of the tuition increase

Possible strategy: Describe specifically and in detail what will be done with the increased tuition and how those actions are expected to benefit students. Refer to the budget to be created using Form A, which will be appended to your proposal.

H. Assistantships or grant support for graduate students

Ideal effect: The program provides sufficient assistantships and/or grant support for its graduate students and/or will use the increased tuition to improve the level of graduate student support.

Possible strategies:

  • Describe current assistantships and/or grant support for graduate students and evaluate the sufficiency of the support.
  • Describe any assistantships that would be supported by the increase in tuition and the benefits of the added assistantships.

I. Analysis of student indebtedness levels within the university

Ideal effect: The program and university are aware of indebtedness of students

Possible strategy: Provide the university’s data on indebtedness (for information on student indebtedness contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid).


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