‘We Promise’ low tuition — that’s the UNC system’s vow in new ad campaign

If you haven’t heard about the UNC system’s new, more affordable educational opportunities, you’re about to.

On Monday, the university system will launch a $1 million marketing campaign to inform North Carolina about two initiatives — a tuition break at three campuses and a fixed tuition plan for all UNC system students who stay enrolled continuously for four years at a UNC campus.

The “We Promise” campaign touts the N.C. Promise plan funded by the Republican-led legislature, which guarantees $1,000-a-year tuition for in-state students and $5,000 annually for out-of-state students at three campuses — Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University. The lower-cost program was passed in 2016 and started this fall.

A Gallup poll conducted recently showed that awareness of the affordability strategies was low among North Carolina residents. Fourteen percent knew about NC Promise and 18 percent knew that tuition will remain flat for a student’s four years, according to the survey.

The campaign will feature video and internet ads and radio spots throughout the state. It touts the Republican-led legislature’s $51 million in funding for NC Promise, and gets under way in the height of election season. The marketing push was funded by the legislature.

“It’s pretty darn close to meeting our constitutional mandate of ‘as free as practicable,’” UNC President Margaret Spellings said, referring to the state constitution’s stated guarantee of low tuition. “It’s a great deal for North Carolinians and it’s a great deal for folks in the bordering states that have availed themselves of our outstanding university system. Enrollment is up at the three places we have [NC Promise], but we want more people to know about it.”

The program is good for the campuses, families and North Carolina, Spellings said. “We need more college-educated students in our state,” she said.

Many people aren’t aware of the fixed tuition, which gives students certainty on the price of a UNC education and an incentive to stay in school, she said.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559; @janestancill
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