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By MICHAEL BIESECKER
Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, NC (AP) — The UNC Board of Governors is concerned years of budget cuts now threaten the mission of the state’s public university system to provide students an affordable high-quality education.

During a budget discussion in Chapel Hill on Thursday, board members wrestled with whether to lift a self-imposed 6.5 percent annual cap on tuition increases to try to keep pace with the more than $1.2 billion reduction in state taxpayer support since 2008. The biggest cut came earlier this year with a $417 million reduction approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Leaders at the 16 schools will make requests for tuition increases in December, with the system board expected to vote early next year. The average tuition for the system is now $5,274 a year, not including fees.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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