One of the untold stories of Governor McCrory’s budget is the lack of investment in the UNC system’s need-based aid. Given the fact that the Governor has prioritized the preparation of North Carolinians for jobs of the future, it is surprising that he hasn’t recognized the importance of need-based aid to increasing completion rates.
The evidence on this point is clear. Need-based aid can support students to completion by reducing their need to take on jobs to pay for school or to take on high cost loans. Moreover, future jobs will increasingly require some type of post-secondary credential or degree, according to analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Workforce and Education.
As we have written about in the past, a bachelor’s degree provides students with not only an earning boost but some level of protection against unemployment. But the benefits extend beyond the individual to the broader economy: an educated workforce trained for jobs and for active participation in their communities contributes to the state’s competitiveness and quality of life.
The Governor’s budget invests just $122.6 million in the UNC Need-Based Aid program, down from a Great Recession-recovery peak of $173.25 million in 2010-11. The result would be 10,393 fewer students receiving need-based aid. And while tuition at North Carolina’s public universities continues to rise, more and more students will find it difficult to afford a post-secondary education.