North Carolina Senator Proposes $500. Tuition for Five UNC Colleges!

Dear Commons Community,

A bill is working its way through the North Carolina Senate that would reduce college tuition to $500. per semester at five of the University of North Carolina colleges.   As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Since Republicans assumed the majority in North Carolina’s legislature six years ago, the state has become a sort of lab for unorthodox higher-education-reform proposals. Remember the bill that would have required all University of North Carolina professors to carry a 4/4 teaching load? Or the plan to route the weakest students admitted to the system’s campuses to community colleges first?

Lawmakers’ latest idea: Cut tuition for in-state students to $500 a semester at five UNC campuses, including four minority-serving institutions.

The price tag would be a welcome relief for many students. What’s less clear is whether the state would pick up all or some of the tab for the lost tuition revenue. The measure, Senate Bill 873, includes no mention of additional state money for those institutions. Its primary sponsor, Republican State Sen. Tom Apodaca, didn’t respond to The Chronicle’s request for comment — though he said last week that the low-tuition plan would cost between $60 million and $80 million and proposed that the money could come from the state’s general fund, according to The News & Observer.

The bill, introduced in the State Senate last week, is an attention-grabbing addition to a conversation about higher-education costs that is taking place in state legislatures nationwide. Several states have acted over the past several years to freeze public-college tuition for a year or two. In rare cases, states have even reduced tuition.

But no state has curbed costs as dramatically as the North Carolina bill would, college-affordability experts say, and virtually all of the recent measures that froze or cut tuition used extra state money to make up at least some of the difference.

The bill’s focus on minority-serving institutions has also stoked apprehension across a system stung by concerns of broad “right-sizing” .”

The article correctly comments that discussions about cutting college costs are on the agenda of state legislatures throughout the country.  In addition, proposals for free public college tuition that have surfaced during the current presidential primary cycle especially from Democrat Bernie Sanders, will serve to fuel more discussions about significantly reducing or eliminating college tuition.



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