NC Promise FAQ

In the Fall of 2018, all undergraduate students at WCU will receive reduced student tuition costs as part of a new program from the State of North Carolina called NC Promise. 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. The North Carolina General Assembly may consider revisions to the legislation during the 2017 or 2018 legislative sessions. 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.

What Will the Total Cost of ATtendance Be at WCU?

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:

Expense  Current With NC Promise
Tuition $1,946.50 $500.00
Fees $2,678.00 $2,678.00
Residence Hall, Standard Dbl $2,219.00 $2,219.00
Meal Plan, Standard $1,868.13 $1,868.13
Resident Tech Fee $89.00 $89.00
Total  $8,800.63  $7,354.13 


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

Expense  Current With NC Promise
Tuition $7,143.00 $2,500.00
Fees $2,678.00 $2,678.00
Residence Hall, Standard Dbl $2,219.00 $2,219.00
Meal Plan, Standard $1,868.13 $1,868.13
Resident Tech Fee $89.00 $89.00
Total  $13,997.13  $9,354.13 

Who is eligible for the new reduced costs?

All undergraduate students attending Western Carolina, UNCP and ECSU 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. 

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 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 does this apply to part-time students?

Tuition will be prorated for part-time undergraduate students. Specific per-hour tuition costs are still being developed.

Will the reduced tuition lessen the quality of education?

No! 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.

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 Plan Tuition Plan cost. The end result is affordability for students without sacrificing our quality.


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.

Why are these three universities included?

The three participating institutions are strategically located in different parts of the state, providing proximity of access to a majority of citizens. In addition, each of the campuses has a historical mission of providing an accessible education. Plus, the three schools offer different academic programming, providing for a wide variety available to prospective students.

Is this partly a response to decreasing enrollment at these schools?

Western Carolina University has experienced continual growth over the past decade and experienced a significant increase in undergraduate enrollment in Fall 2017. UNCP has also seen application and enrollment increases in recent years. Although ECSU has seen some enrollment decline, legislators have not indicated this was a significant factor in the establishment of this new program.

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.

If I am a senior now, why not wait and enroll in Fall 2018?

At WCU, we are strongly discouraging students to wait. Why? Oftentimes, students who delay starting college end up not starting at all. Second, unless you apply for the upcoming fall, you will not be able to consider and weigh financial aid, scholarship, and other opportunities that might make it worthwhile to go ahead and enroll. Competition will likely increase as applications go up in response to NC Promise, and WCU will not have the capacity to take in a Freshman class that includes two years of graduates. Delaying a year may dramatically reduce your chances of receiving an acceptance to WCU.

How can I increase my chances of getting in to 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.

When will you know more?

NC Promise was established by legislation passed in the Summer of 2016. As such, the details of program implementation are still being worked out and legislative changes are still possible. As we have more details, we will post them here. You can visit this page again by going to

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