From the New Journal and Guide Newsroom
Supporters of a North Carolina Senate Bill say it will lower the cost of a college education for state residents and increase the enrollment of native and visiting students. But civil rights activists, Democrats and leaders of HBCUs say the bill could lead HBCUs to being financially unstable and having to convert to community college status. North Carolina State Senate Bill 873 or the “Access to Affordable College Education Act,” calls for no tuition or fee hikes for students in the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, provided they graduate in four years.
It would cut student fees at all system campuses by 10 to 25 percent and cap future increases at no more than 3 percent per academic year. If passed, the bill would reduce tuition to $500 per semester for in-state students at Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, UNC Pembroke, Winston-Salem State and Western Carolina. Two other HBCUs, North Carolina Central and A&T, have been spared.
Western Carolina, a historically White university, is thrown in the mix with the HBCUs, critics of the Bill say, to disguise the bill’s racist intentions.
Out-of-state students would pay $2,500 per semester. However, lowering tuition at the five HBCU schools could cost the state about $65 million annually in lost revenue, according to early estimates obtained by the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
Critics say lost revenue generated from the HBCU schools will mean cutting academic programs at those schools and essentially making them glorified community colleges. Also, for students attending other schools, out-of-state tuition would have to be hiked to plug the budget gap. The bill also would call for these schools to change their names to increase marketability and to reflect the expected influx of new students. Critics said by changing the names of the HBCUs, it would whitewash their histories, and dissolve any attachment to the Black community and their historic roles. The bill calls for a study of “the impact of each university’s name on the institution’s academic strength, enrollment, and diversity.” The Board of Governors may make recommendations on any potential changes to the legislature.