RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina NAACP held a rally at the North Carolina General Assembly Tuesday against a bill that would lower tuition at some UNC System schools to as little as $500 per semester.
Many of the schools on the list are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Opponents to North Carolina Senate Bill 873 believe the rates will cheapen the schools. Some opponents have said the bill isn’t about making school more affordable. Instead, it will drain millions of dollars from HBCUs and not replace the funding that’s being taken away.
Supporters of the bill say that low tuition will help increase enrollment at the schools and it’s meant to help students.
The schools that would be affected are Fayetteville State University, Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University, Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Opponents, including the NAACP, say that $500 per semester will cheapen the schools and make it hard for them to operate. They say that they would like to see the cost lowered but are also concerned about protecting the schools for the long-term.
“You cannot claim this bill is about affordability when it under-develops and drains money from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, minority universities, which have already been underfunded for years,” said N.C. NAACP president Rev. William Barber.
“It does sound great but then it also sounds cheapened. So are we looking at the value in the quality of the education?” asked Victor Bruinton, Winston-Salem State University’s national alumni president-elect.
Those in favor see the bill as a way to boost enrollment.
“We are looking at this as a way to make more folks go to those schools and hopefully build up the enrollment,” said N.C. State Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson).
Bruinton said affordable education is important and tuition has increased over the years, but that doesn’t mean lowering the cost to $500 per semester is the answer.
Apodaca called the bill “pretty exciting.”
“They know when they enter what they’ll have to pay for the tuition throughout the term and I think that’s pretty exciting,” he said.
Some students say that despite the increasing costs of college tuition, they’d rather pay more.
“Well if you decrease tuition it could cause a decrease in the quality of education we are receiving as of now,” said Amber Caesar, a Western Carolina University student.