The House budgets for post-secondary education – the UNC System and the Community College System – continues the path of lackluster investment that state leaders have taken in recent years. Beyond state funding provided for pay raises, the House budget is still below pre-recession spending for our community colleges and public four-year universities. The budget continues to make cuts to the university system, fails to do more to make postsecondary education more affordable for North Carolina students and families, and does little to ensure support services or programming needs are available to increase credential and degree attainment. These are all the wrong choices for higher education in North Carolina.
Highlights from the House proposed budgets for post-secondary education include:
- Makes no additional investments beyond funding enrollment growth for student support services or programming needs to increase credential and degree attainment – similar to the Senate’s proposed budget. By contrast, the Governor’s proposed budget provides additional state funding for continuing education courses at the same level as curriculum courses and provides financial assistance to those seeking industry-recognized credentials.
- Establishes a program that provides tuition scholarships to high-achieving NC resident students at community colleges. The Governor’s budget establishes a scholarship program to fund community college tuition and fees for eligible high school graduates from North Carolina, and would likely serve more students.
- Provides only $2 million in one-time state funding to assist community colleges with start-up costs for certain high-cost workforce training programs.
- Provides no additional state funding to reduce tuition cost at community colleges, which has increased by 81 percent since 2009.
- Requires the UNC System to make a one-time cut to its operating budget by $21.9 million in the first year and another $28 million flexibility cut the following year.
- Cuts state funding by $53.4 million for UNC need-based financial aid and replaces with lottery receipts, which are considered one-time dollars. The House budget fails to provide any additional state funding for need-based grant aid to ensure access to a post-secondary education is affordable and reduce the need to take on student loan debt.
- Provides $2.7 million in one-time funding to offset enrollment declines related to Hurricane Matthew, $3 million for faculty recruitment and retention within UNC System, and an additional $10 million in largely one-time funding for data collection, modernization and integration data analytics projects.