This post appears here courtesy of The James G. Martin Center
. The author of this post is Natalia Mayorga
Fayetteville State University (FSU) has joined the NC Promise program in an effort to lower student tuition. The university follows three other UNC Schools: UNC Pembroke, Western Carolina University (WCU), and Elizabeth City State University (ECSU).
The NC Promise program was launched in 2018 to offer low tuition for certain NC colleges and to encourage enrollment. Before the program launched, tuition was higher: $3,602 at Pembroke, $3,971 at WCU, and $2,856 at ECSU during the 2017-18 academic year.
At FSU, pre-NC Promise tuition was $2,982 during the 2021-22 academic year. Starting this fall, FSU will decrease tuition to $500 per semester for in-state students and $2,500 per semester for out-of-state students, matching the other NC Promise schools.
According to chancellor Darrell Allison, lowering tuition at FSU will impact and aid the historically black university's students, the majority of whom are low-income or first-generation college attendees.
Pembroke, WCU, and ECSU joined the NC Promise program in the fall of 2018. However, back in 2016, some colleges were hesitant to join for fear that lowering tuition would push institutions into a "financial crisis."
The North Carolina NAACP went so far as to say that the Republican lawmakers who created the program were trying to bankrupt historically black North Carolina schools and that the bill "attack[ed] people of color directly."
Often unacknowledged by critics is the fact that the NC Promise program provides additional funding to make up for the loss of tuition dollars. An additional $51 million in funding was provided to ECSU, WCU, and Pembroke in 2018. That funding increased to $66 million for the 2021-22 academic year and will be $82.5 million for the 2022-23 academic year to cover FSU's joining the program.
The overall efficacy of NC Promise is not yet known, considering that the program's goal is to improve North Carolina's workforce and economy. (UNC-Chapel Hill is reportedly working on an analysis of the program's success.) However, enrollment at all NC Promise schools has increased.
ECSU experienced the biggest change in enrollment, with a 20 percent increase in first-year undergraduates and a 57 percent increase in transfer students from 2017 to 2018. At Pembroke, first-year enrollment increased by 20 percent, with a 56 percent increase for transfer students. WCU had a 10.5 percent increase in first-years and a 40 percent increase in transfers.
Important to note is the fact that WCU already had increasing enrollment, though ECSU's student population had actually declined in 2017. Finally, while data are not yet available concerning graduation/persistence rates, this year's graduating classes at Pembroke, WCU, and ECSU all included NC Promise students who benefited from low tuition for four years.
Natalia Mayorga recently graduated with a bachelor's in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill and is a Martin Center intern.