At the beginning of October, coinciding with the opening of FASFA applications for 2019, the NC Promise program launched an ad campaign to promote the new plan. “We Promise” aims to raise awareness amongst North Carolinians about the opportunity to utilize NC Promise, which UNC claims will make higher education more affordable for students, yet has many low-income students paying more out-of-pocket costs. The marketing campaign comes with a $1 million price tag.
The News & Observer reported that the legislature funded the marketing push but did not specify who requested the funding. A public records request for any correspondence between Margaret Spellings, President of the UNC System, Drew Moretz, Vice President for State Government Relations for the UNC System, Timothy Minor, Vice President for University Advancement for the UNC System, Andrew P. Kelly, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy for the UNC System, Camille Barkley, Associate Vice President for Media Relations for the UNC System, Josh Ellis, Associate Vice President for Media Relations for the UNC System, Clayton Somers, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and Secretary to UNC-Chapel Hill, Amy Auth, Director of State Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina General Assembly turned up no communication. According to this, there was absolutely no communication about a $1 million ad campaign between any members of the UNC System’s senior staff.Read More
One of the largest concerns for current students, prospective students, faculty, and staff in the UNC system is how the state legislature, which controls nearly all of the system’s overall budget, selects and interacts with the System’s leadership. Looking at political contributions made by the Board of Governors, the governing body of the UNC system, and to NC lawmakers who make the appointments brings to light how budgetary and other crucial decisions about the UNC System are made.
Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) was the only original NC Promise Plan sponsor to receive contributions from current members of the BOG. His biggest contributor is Michael Williford, who contributed a total of $24,700 to Meredith between 2012 and 2018. Williford was appointed to the Board in 2015, and received his JD from NCCU, another HBCU within the system that is not slated to be deeply impacted by the Promise Plan, but is currently facing criticism for erasing the culture of the university.
The 2017-2018 Budget made waves amongst affiliates and community members of the UNC system when it became clear that significant budget cuts would impact several colleges and universities, especially the system’s five HBCUs.
Since 2011 the UNC system has dealt with cuts,including $414 million in 2011 after Republicans gained control of the legislature. The system faced financial aid tuition revenue caps and the consolidation of 46 degree programs. The original version of the 2017 Budget included a $4 million cut to the UNC School of Law that was reduced to $500,000 in compromises before the budget’s final passage. Senate Bill 99, the 2018 Budget, included new changes to create the NC Promise Plan.
The NC Promise Plan was sold as an attempt to address the growing college affordability crisis. Claims of enrollment increases at impacted universities have sparked celebrations of the renewed accessibility of higher education in NC. However, the budget language about NC Promise is cause for concern about the longevity of the universities impacted
Section 10.5 G.S. 116-143.11 says “the State shall ‘buy down’ the amount of any financial obligation resulting from the established tuition rate that may be incurred by Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina…” A buy down is a mortgage-financing technique where the buyer attempts to obtain a lower interest rate. According to Business Insider, buy downs usually cause the property seller to raise the purchase price to compensate for the costs of the buy down.Read More