As I shared in my update last week, campus communities across the state are engaged in conversations regarding North Carolina Senate Bill 873, the “Access to Affordable Higher Education Act.”
I remain in close contact with the General Assembly, UNC General Administration and my fellow Chancellors regarding the bill and its potential implications for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Conversations are ongoing, and legislators have been very willing to engage with us. The bill before us most likely will not be the final product.
The legislation has many interrelated parts, several of which have been revised significantly or eliminated. For instance, a proposal to evaluate the names of institutions has been removed. Let me be clear, in response to some of your questions, at no point did the proposed legislation include a provision to change the status of any universities to community colleges, adjusting degrees awarded or academic programs offered.
The active proposal receiving the most attention is the North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan, which, in its most recent form, would affect tuition at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Western Carolina University. The plan would set tuition at $500 per semester for in-state students and $2,500 per semester for out-of-state students.
We appreciate the intention of the bill is to adjust tuition to assist students in affording the opportunity a high-quality education provides. This supports our state’s commitment to providing an affordable education. However, many of you have expressed concerns about possible unintended consequences of the bill, such as the potential effect on our value and brand. I agree this is a valid concern.
Furthermore, concerns have been expressed about financial implications. UNCP would not support any proposal that reduces tuition without a provision to replace the lost revenue. An amendment passed today calls for additional state funding to cover the cost of a tuition revenue loss resulting from enactment of the North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan. We are aware of the inability of the present General Assembly to financially commit future legislatures.
These are the issues we believe should be addressed through continued dialogue. We are hopeful the ongoing discussions will result in an opportunity to build on our historic mission of access, affordability and student success.
Please be assured we will remain in close contact with members of the General Assembly, UNC General Administration and fellow Chancellors as deliberations continue on this proposal. We appreciate the feedback you have provided and we will keep you informed.
UNC Pembroke’s founding 129 years ago was the product of collaboration between visionary community leaders and lawmakers to provide access to education. We are committed to continuing that vision.
Robin Gary Cummings