UNC-Chapel Hill Will Cover Undergraduate Tuition for NC Residents Whose Families Earn Less Than $80K Annually

Photo Credit: Mx. Granger, Wikimedia Commons

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced intentions to extend access to the university by offering some students free tuition, only days after the United States Supreme Court rejected its race-conscious admissions procedure in a landmark decision.

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The University of North Carolina’s Chancellor, Kevin Guskiewicz, announced that the university will cover undergraduate tuition for North Carolina residents whose families earn less than $80,000 per year, “beginning with the incoming class in 2024.”

According to The News Observer, these students will be among the first to apply to the university in the upcoming admissions cycle, following the Supreme Court’s declaration that race cannot be considered when evaluating admissions.

“We want to make sure students know financial constraints should not stand in the way of their dreams,” Guskiewicz said. “We will be sharing details about this exciting new opportunity within the next few weeks.”

Full-time attendance at the university in the academic year 2023-2024 will cost in-state students $7,020 in tuition, according to the college. Fees cost over $2,000 every year. Meanwhile, the median household income in North Carolina, according to the US Census Bureau, is around $60,500.

The university also announced the addition of outreach officers to its admissions staff in order to improve access for potential students.

“They are serving in under-resourced communities to spread awareness of our affordability and recruit students from across the state. We want the best students to know that a UNC-Chapel Hill education is a possibility for them,” Guskiewicz said.

The Chancellor praised the Carolina Covenant and Blue Sky Scholars programs as existing inexpensive university offerings.

The Carolina Covenant allows students to graduate debt-free provided they or their families earn 200% of the federal poverty line, which the university defines as $53,000 a year for a four-person household.

Although the change is intended to demonstrate the university’s commitment to historically underrepresented students, Higher Ed Dive noted that it is unclear how many will genuinely benefit because Guskiewicz did not include that statistic in his announcement. There have been no more remarks on this as of the time of this report.

With this move, UNC becomes the most recent, but not the first, elite university in the Triangle to offer free tuition to surrounding students. Duke University announced in mid-June that it would begin offering free tuition to existing and prospective students from North and South Carolina whose families make less than $150,000 per year.

This announcement was made just over two weeks before the Supreme Court’s judgment. Duke students from states with household incomes of $65,000 or less will be eligible for additional financial aid for food, housing, and other costs. According to Duke, 340 students are expected to take advantage of the offer during the upcoming academic year.

On the other hand, Guskiewicz provided further insight into anticipated changes to the university’s admissions policies as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In the past, the institution included race as one of the many considerations in its admissions process. However, the university, according to Guskiewicz, “will follow the Supreme Court’s decision in all respects.”

He explained that this means race would no longer be considered when admissions decisions are made. However, the institution may still consider how an applicant’s interactions with people of a different race may reveal information about a student’s character, as long as those interactions are not “credited as ‘race for race’s sake.'”

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