While annual tuition increases are the norm across higher ed, the University of North Carolina system has bucked this trend and kept tuition level for 5 years now.
Though some fees have increased in recent years, the UNC system has made a commendable effort in keeping prices low for North Carolina’s students.
In 2016, the UNC Board of Governors adopted a strategic plan to achieve measurable progress on a dozen goals, such as access, affordability, student success, economic impact, and diversity.
“Our System-wide tuition freeze reinforces the board’s commitment to keep college costs low,” Randy Ramsey, chairman of the UNC BOG, said in a press release. “We are also grateful to the General Assembly for helping us reduce the financial burden on our students. Together, we will ensure people from every corner of this state can afford a world-class education.”
UNC in-state students will pay an average of $4,553 in tuition at 13 UNC schools (and only $1,000 at 3 schools, thanks to the NC Promise program). Fees, however, which will increase by 2.2 percent in 2021-2022, will require students to pay $6,553 in tuition and fees total.
Out-of-state students will pay much more: $20,194 in tuition and fees.
North Carolina is a national outlier in tuition and fee pricing. The College Board noted that average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges were $10,440 in 2019-2020. The national average for tuition and fees is almost 60 percent higher than in North Carolina.
Room for improvement remains, though: Montana, Utah, Florida, and Wyoming all have lower in-state tuition.
Regardless, the University of North Carolina system deserves its praise. Student costs are low, more students are graduating, and the public can see the progress made on what the UNC system has promised.
Anthony Hennen is managing editor at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.