PEMBROKE — Beginning in the fall 2018, North Carolina residents can earn a degree at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke for $500 in tuition per semester, thanks to NC Promise.
Out-of-state students would pay $2,500 in tuition per semester. The new tuition plan is one component of the state Legislature’s college affordability program.
Coupled with some of the lowest fees and associated costs in the UNC system, the new plan will make a UNCP education one of the most affordable in North Carolina. Western Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University have also been identified as NC Promise campuses.
“NC Promise will allow UNCP to offer the same rigorous, high-quality educational experience at much lower costs to our students,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “Lower tuition reduces the financial burden on working families. And with less student debt, graduates will have more freedom to pursue their dreams.
“NC Promise is a transformative opportunity for our students, our university and our region.”
The aim of the tuition plan is threefold — increase access to higher education, support economic development by helping North Carolina meet demands for a well-educated workforce, and decrease student loan indebtedness.
The result at UNCP will be the shifting of a greater portion of the cost from the students to the state, strengthening North Carolina’s investment in UNCP.
NC Promise adheres to the state’s constitutional obligation of keeping tuition as free as practicable.
With the rising cost of higher education nationwide, coupled with an increase in student debt, UNCP students stand to benefit significantly from NC Promise.
National statistics show there are more than 44 million borrowers with $1.3 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. The average student nationwide in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.
The average student loan debt at UNCP is $23,424.
About 80 percent of UNCP students receive some form of financial aid. About 57 percent of the full-time undergraduates receive the Pell grant, a subsidy the U.S. federal government provides for students based on need.
Under NC Promise, in-state students would save approximately $10,400 in tuition over four years. The savings in tuition for out-of-state students would be approximately $40,772 over four years.
As with all institutions, the total cost of attendance includes fees and other associated costs, in addition to tuition.
All undergraduate students at UNCP are eligible for the new tuition plan, including part-time, online, distance education, transfer and international students.
NC Promise tuition does not apply to students in graduate programs.
“We are excited about the potential growth opportunity and increased accessibility to a quality university education that NC Promise will allow us to achieve,” said Lois Williams, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment.
“We believe this new program will attract the highest quality students across North Carolina, the nation and internationally, resulting in an enhanced learning environment.”
Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Aaron Vandermeer called NC Promise a “real game changer.”
“NC Promise has real potential to help spread the word about our high quality faculty and the valuable education we can offer for students who may have otherwise chosen to go elsewhere.
“UNCP will definitely become one of the best-value universities in the Southeast,” Vandermeer said.
Vandermeer, a music professor, said faculty members are optimistic about the new plan and its potential to positively affect resources available to UNCP students and the community.
“Growth is anticipated, but the faculty is focused on providing the same high-quality education to our students, independent of enrollment numbers.”
Dajer Fernandez, student body president, said NC Promise is more than an opportunity for UNCP to provide an even more affordable education. It provides a basis and push for the university to renew and revamp existing programs to better serve its population.
“What NC Promise does, in a way, is start a discussion and action plan that puts UNCP on a stronger and quicker path to help the region and see students succeed,” said Fernandez, a Political Science major.
Discussions have been held with students regarding the positive windfall expected from the tuition plan and the need for an affordable education, he said.
“It falls in the bigger discussion across the country regarding the costs of an education versus the worth of a degree,” Fernandez said. “NC Promise is about providing opportunities and allowing students to focus on the main reasons they came to college.”
Mark Locklear is a Public Communications specialist with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s office of University Communications & Marketing.