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'College was not even an option': UNC system promises a more affordable future

BOG Meeting
The UNC System Board of Governors met Tuesday at UNC System Office in Chapel Hill.

The UNC system is taking new measures to improve college affordability for North Carolina students with the “We Promise” campaign announced Monday. The initiative focuses on informing the public about the affordable education options available, more specifically the Fixed Tuition Program and the N.C. Promise Tuition Plan. 

The first component of the initiative, the Fixed Tuition Plan, was launched in the fall of 2016. This program guarantees that North Carolina residents attending an in-state public university will pay the same tuition cost every year of their continuous 4-year undergraduate enrollment. As a result, the Fixed Tuition Plan enables North Carolina students to seek a college degree knowing how much it will cost. 

The N.C. Promise Tuition Plan, the initiative’s second program, was just launched this fall at three select North Carolina universities: Western Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. In an attempt to make North Carolina schools more affordable, this plan reduces tuition for in-state undergraduate students to $500 a semester and tuition for out-of-state undergraduate students to $2,500 a semester. 

All students attending an N.C. Promise university, including those who were enrolled before Fall 2018, now pay the lowered tuition rate. 

“Until about 4 months before the due date for the applications at Western, I wasn’t even going to college until I found out about the N.C. Promise Plan," said Noah Crawford, a first-year majoring in construction management at Western Carolina University. "Financially, college was not even an option; it was graduate high school and go to work.” 

Jason Tyson, director of Media Relations for the UNC System, said the North Carolina system is one of the most affordable outlets for obtaining a college education in the country.

“It’s a great way for people who may not have thought of college as an option before to have a great opportunity for college,” Tyson said. 

The three N.C. Promise schools all increased enrollment as a result of the campaign. 

“We’ve seen an increase of 19 percent of total undergraduate enrollment at Elizabeth City State, 14 percent increase at Pembroke and a six percent increase at Western Carolina,” Tyson said.  

As of right now, the State Legislature's focus remains on the effective application of N.C. Promise at the three participating universities, but Tyson hopes the program will continue to be studied and expanded in the future. 

“It’s a $51 million investment into the universities. There’s a lot of support for N.C. Promise.”

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