Under the Dome

Vote on low NC tuition bill delayed

The state Senate on Thursday delayed voting on a bill that would set tuition at $1,000 a year at five UNC campuses.

Senate bill 873 sponsor Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican, said UNC system President Margaret Spellings and some of the university chancellors at a meeting Wednesday requested a week to come up with a marketing plan for the $500-per-semester tuition. The bill was sent to the Senate Rules Committee and may be changed before it comes to a vote of the full Senate.

The bill would dramatically reduce in-state tuition at three historically black universities, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, and Winston-Salem State University; historically American Indian UNC Pembroke, and Western Carolina University, a majority white school.

The bill would also guarantee fixed tuition at all UNC schools for students who complete their bachelor’s degrees in four years.

HBCU backers worry that the proposal would starve the schools and weaken their traditions. Apodaca said the aim is to boost enrollment at the smaller campuses and provide low-cost alternatives across the state.

At a committee meeting Wednesday, he promised the state would provide the $70 million a year to compensate for lost tuition revenue.