The UNC Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on the proposed increase today. A hike would affect 16 campuses, including UNC and NC State.
Although an increase is expected, the question of how much and where the money will go remains unanswered. The increase could result in a showdown between UNC leaders and the General Assembly.
A plan by state lawmakers would raise tuition by an average of 7.2 percent or $180. The UNC system is proposing a cheaper alternative -- 5.2 percent increase, which equals about $131 per student.
Not surprisingly, student leaders are supporting the lower increase.
After the Board of Governors votes, it will send the proposal to the legislature for consideration.
Beyond the dollar amounts, lawmakers and university leaders have different thought on how the money generated should be spent.
The General Assembly wants tuition hike dollars to go into the state's general fund to be spent as lawmakers choose. UNC leaders want all of the money to stay on campuses.
Regardless which increase, either will be painful for students. By comparison, recent tuition hikes in other states have been much higher.
In Florida, tuition recently increased by 15 percent. In California, tuition increased by 32 percent.
At the start of Friday's meeting, UNC system President Erskine Bowles announced his retirement at the end of the year. He has served as president of the multi-campus University of North Carolina since January 1, 2006.