The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has announced its plans to expand the opportunity to attend the university by providing some students with free tuition, days after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated its race-conscious admissions policy in a landmark decision.
UNC Chancellor, Kevin Guskiewicz, announced that the institution will cover undergraduate tuition for North Carolina residents whose families earn less than $80,000 annually, “starting with the incoming class in 2024.”
According to The News Observer, these pupils will be the first to apply to the university in the upcoming cycle of admissions, following the Supreme Court’s decision that race can no longer be taken into account when determining 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.”
According to the institution, full-time enrollment at the university in the academic year 2023–2024 will cost in-state students $7,020 in tuition. Nearly $2,000 is spent on fees each year. Meanwhile, the median income for households in North Carolina, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is roughly $60,500.
The institution also disclosed that it has added outreach officers to its admissions team – to increase access for prospective 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 highlighted the Carolina Covenant and Blue Sky Scholars programs as existing affordable programs offered by the university.
The Carolina Covenant enables students to graduate from the institution debt-free if they or their families are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, which the university stated was $53,000 yearly for a four-person household.
Although the move aims to demonstrate the university’s dedication to historically underrepresented students, Higher Ed Dive pointed out that it’s unclear how many will truly benefit because Guskiewicz didn’t provide that statistic in his announcement. As of the time of this report, no further comments have been made on this.
This initiative makes UNC the most recent, but not the first, prestigious university in the Triangle to grant nearby students free tuition. Duke University stated in mid-June that it would start providing free tuition to current and prospective students from North Carolina and South Carolina whose families’ income is $150,000 or less.
This announcement came less than two weeks before the Supreme Court’s decision. Additional financial aid for food, housing, and other costs will be made available to Duke students from those states with household incomes of $65,000 or less. 340 students are anticipated to take advantage of the offer in the forthcoming academic year, according to Duke.
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 implies race will no longer be taken into account when making admissions decisions. However, the university may still take into account how an applicant’s encounters with other people of a different race may disclose information about a student’s character, so long as those experiences are not “credited as ‘race for race’s sake.'”