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NC Promise Tuition Plan

Tuition at WCU Reduced with NC Promise

At Western Carolina University, we have always been committed to providing high-quality, affordable education for anyone who wishes to pursue a degree. Beginning the Fall of 2018, all undergraduate students, both residential and online, attending WCU will receive reduced student tuition costs as part of a new program from the State of North Carolina called NC Promise.


The impact of this dramatic reduction means that all undergraduate students, including full and part-time new freshmen, returning students, transfer students, and students in online programs will pay only $500 for in-state and $2,500 for out-of-state tuition per semester. The out-of-state tuition rate applies to undergraduate international students as well.

You may wonder, how is it that we are able to lower the cost so dramatically? The State of North Carolina will be supplementing this cost, by matching dollar for dollar the difference between our current tuition cost and the NC Promise Tuition Plan cost so that students pay less while WCU continues to deliver the highest quality education.

This by no means will change our mission as a university. We are still committed to supporting the development of our region, to grow at a responsible and sustainable rate and to provide a high-caliber education to every student who attends.

Cost Comparisons

Our cost of attendance fluctuates each year based on a number of factors. The anticipated costs for 2018 will be posted as they are available at At this time, we can only provide a snapshot of the impact NC Promise would have on total cost based on today's tuition rates.

Typical per-semester cost for in-state, full time, undergraduate student living on campus:

Tuition $1,985.50 $500.00
Fees $2,880.00 $2,880.00
Residence Hall, Standard Dbl $2,308.00 $2,308.00
Meal Plan, Standard $1,908.88 $1,908.88
Resident Tech Fee $89.00 $89.00
TOTAL  $9171.38 $7,685.88


Typical per-semester cost for out-of-state, full time, undergraduate student living on campus:

Tuition $7,182.00 $2,500.00
Fees $2,880.00 $2,880.00
Residence Hall, Standard Dbl $2,308.00 $2,308.00
Meal Plan, Standard $1,908.88 $1,908.88
Resident Tech Fee $89.00 $89.00
TOTAL  $14,367.88 $9,685.88 


Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions related to this new program. Please note that these answers are based on the current structure of the legislation that created NC Promise. As new information becomes available, it will be posted here.

What is NC Promise?

The North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan is a program of the State of North Carolina established with the intent of increasing access to a quality university education through the University of North Carolina system. Beginning Fall 2018, NC Promise will dramatically reduce student costs at three UNC system campuses: Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Elizabeth City State University.

Undergraduate students enrolling Fall 2018 at any of those three institutions will pay only $500 for in-state and $2,500 for out-of-state tuition per semester. Through the NC Promise Program, the state of North Carolina will supplement the cost of education to make this reduced student cost possible.

Campus-related fees for students and on-campus residency costs will not drop, so it is important for parents and students to understand the full cost of attendance.

Who is eligible for the new reduced costs?

All undergraduate students attending Western Carolina University will pay the reduced student tuition costs beginning in Fall 2018. This includes both new and returning students, transfer students, students in online programs and international students. No application is needed, and there are no eligibility requirements to take advantage of NC Promise.

Please note these changes do not apply to graduate programs. 


Residential in-state part-time students will pay $125 per semester for up to 5 hours, $250 per semester for 6-8 hours and $375 per semester for 9-11 hours of credits. Residential out-of-state part-time students will pay $625 per semester for up to 5 hours, $1,250 per semester for 6-8 hours and $1,875 per semester for 9-11 hours of credits. This is the total semester tuition cost and does not include residential fees. 

The part-time undergraduate distance tuition rate will be $53.88 per credit hour, not including program fees where applicable. Out-of-state distance students will pay $189.02 per credit hour.

Will thE Reduced Cost expire in the student’s fourth year?

No. This student tuition cost is not limited to an 8-semester career. Another piece of legislation passed in 2016 mandates other UNC institutions to set a fixed tuition cost for 8 semesters for each student after which costs could rise. This fixed tuition plan is separate from NC Promise. Students at NC Promise institutions will pay the set NC Promise student tuition cost as long as they are enrolled (assuming no legislative changes are made to the program during the student’s academic career).

Will this cost increase over time as tuition typically does?

Because the specific amounts are included in the legislation, increases to the $500 and $2,500 student tuition costs will have to be set by the state legislature as needed in response to inflation or other factors. At this time, we do not know whether increases over time are intended or will be considered.

How will these schools offer the same education while dropping costs?

The state of North Carolina will match dollar for dollar the difference between our full tuition price and the NC Promise Tuition Plan cost. The end result is affordability for students without sacrificing our quality. The NC Promise Tuition Plan will not affect accreditations, academic offerings, student support or campus experience. In fact, the reduced cost is likely to allow the institutions to attract the highest quality students, resulting in an enhanced learning environment.


This significant investment in access to higher education honors the state’s constitutional commitment to make higher education available to all citizens “as free as is reasonably possible.” It also supports economic development in the state by helping North Carolina meet demands for a well-educated workforce, increasing recruitment of high-performing out-of-state students, and decreasing college indebtedness.

How will this impact my admission for Fall 2018?

We expect a higher than normal number of applications beginning Fall 2018. While a set tuition price is guaranteed through NC Promise, admission to these three universities is not. A larger applicant pool will likely increase competition for available space in each incoming class.

How can I increase my chances of getting into an NC Promise school?

At WCU, we are recommending three things to increase your likelihood of being admitted amid increased competition:

  1. Apply Early. We make rolling admissions decisions, meaning we won’t wait until the last applicant applies to make a decision. If you apply later, we may not have room remaining in our incoming class. Applications open in early August for the following fall each year.
  2. Take Advantage of the Great Grades Guarantee. Students who attend a North Carolina high school and who maintain a cumulative A average may qualify for guaranteed standard admission to WCU. Find out more here.
  3. Show us You’re Motivated. At Western Carolina, we make Admissions decisions based on far more than grades and test scores. We also consider motivation and desire. How does one quantify motivation and desire? WCU considers factors ranging from whether a student has made a formal visit to campus to see if WCU is a good fit (i.e., attended an open house or gone through an admission presentation and taken a tour), to leadership or service activities, to how many times a student has attempted standardized tests, to extenuating circumstances, to recommendations, to personal statements.
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