BY QUANTIA SUTTON AND HAJAR AHMED
Thousands of North Carolina families may be in for a rude surprise as financial aid award letters start arriving this month. If colleges don’t change their overall budgeting practices, financial aid won’t go as far this year as last. The same will happen next year and every year thereafter.
The UNC Board of Governors, led by a new majority, has dictated that no public college may dedicate more than 15 percent of tuition revenue to financial aid. No other university spending is limited in this way.
We shudder at the impact at tuition-dependent schools like Fayetteville State. One of us attends Fayetteville. The other led a campaign against financial aid cuts at the University of Virginia last year. We can tell you what is going to happen.
For many, Fayetteville State will be out of the question without high levels of need-based financial aid. A college education will be left to a mix of hope and chance: applying for private scholarships that may or may not be awarded or, if awarded, may or may not be enough to cover costs. The only thing guaranteed would be exceptionally high levels of student debt.
Maybe the board doesn’t understand how deeply students fear high levels of debt and how the prospect forces us to work full-time jobs to reduce expenses, which delays graduation. In some cases, it forces students to withdraw from our institutions altogether.
Even for students who survive North Carolina’s financial aid cut if it’s not reversed, the increased levels of debt they’ll likely face will undoubtedly give them a negative outlook on their college experience and future life choices.
We need to make North Carolina leaders understand that college access for all is in everyone’s interest.
Read more at the News & Observer.