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‘We Promise’ campaign launched to promote college affordability

The University of North Carolina System launched the We Promise campaign Oct. 2 to promote affordable college opportunities for every North Carolinian.

As students navigate college and financial aid applications, “We Promise” highlights two significant investments in the state’s public university system — the NC Promise tuition plan and the Fixed Tuition Program. Though UNC System tuition remains among the lowest in the nation, it rose substantially in the years following the Great Recession. Putting an end to cost increases has been a priority for university leaders and lawmakers.

“‘We Promise’ is an ambitious initiative that highlights how we are making college more accessible and affordable for all North Carolinians,” said UNC System President Margaret Spellings. “North Carolinians believe in the power of higher education to change lives and improve our state. These efforts are easing the burden on North Carolina families and upholding the state’s constitutional mandate to provide affordable higher education.”

The NC Promise tuition plan, passed in 2016, lowers undergraduate tuition to $500 per semester for in-state students and $2,500 per semester for out-of-state students at Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Western Carolina University. Starting this fall, all undergraduate students at these institutions are benefiting from reduced tuition, regardless of when they first enrolled. Every North Carolinian is within 150 miles of a NC Promise university.

“Western Carolina University has long been known as an incredible higher education value, offering high-quality academic programs at an affordable cost,” said Western Carolina’s Interim Chancellor Alison Morrison-Shetlar. “With the onset of the NC Promise tuition plan, a Western Carolina University education becomes an even better value for our students and their parents.”

The Fixed Tuition Program, also passed in 2016, holds resident undergraduate tuition flat through four years of continuous enrollment at any UNC System university. The program offers students and families much-needed predictability and a powerful incentive for on-time graduation.

Affordability is a top concern for the public and policymakers. Although a large majority of North Carolinians believe a four-year degree leads to a better life and better job prospects, too many families feel that higher education remains unaffordable for them. But recent polling from Gallup shows that just 14 percent of North Carolinians know about NC Promise and just 18 percent know that tuition stays the same for a students’ four years.

“To build the college-going culture our state needs, people must know about the affordable options that are available,” Spellings said. “That’s exactly what the ‘We Promise’ campaign will do.”

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