Letters to the Editor

Jim Hart: Legislature to blame for high tuition

In response to Margaret Spellings’ June 5 column “Welcoming a productive discussion”: I hold a degree from N.C. State University, and my wife graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. My daughter is a senior at Appalachian State, and my son will begin classes at UNC Wilmington this fall.

When I started at NCSU in 1980, my single semester in-state tuition was $279. Adjusting for inflation, that number today would be $810. But NCSU’s tuition today is five times that, at $4,440 per semester.

While the North Carolina legislature provided almost 75 percent of the cost of in-state tuition in 1980, today the state covers only about 25 percent.

The remainder is placed on the backs of the students and their parents, making college beyond the means of many or resulting in huge college debt that limits recent graduates’ choices.

Had this been the case in 1980, I would not have been able to afford college.

If the percentage of tuition paid by the legislature had remained stable for in-state students, we would not be debating the need to lower tuition to $500 at some of our campuses – college would still be affordable for our middle-class population.

Jim Hart