North Carolina might beat President Barack Obama to offering free community college, at least for top performing high school students.
A proposal moving through the state legislature is designed to benefit North Carolina high school students who graduate with at least a 3.5 GPA. If a student’s financial aid doesn’t cover the cost of community college, the state would fill in the gaps for two years. Legislators discussed House Bill 129 on Tuesday in an N.C. House committee.
“This will help us be a little bit more competitive with our neighboring states,” said Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, R-Alleghany, noting that Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have similar programs. The bill sets aside $2 million to pay for scholarships in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The bill would offer free community college for some N.C. high school students:
- Students would need a 3.5 high school GPA.
- They would have to maintain a cumulative 3.0.
- The state would pay for the tuition the student's financial aid doesn't cover.
Elmore, a primary sponsor of the bill, said it would help build a stronger workforce to meet the state’s needs while also saving both the state and students a significant amount of money.
The state pays $13,419 per student annually for in-state tuition at UNC-system schools, while a year of community college costs the state $4,401.