The fate of three HBCUs is up in the air after the North Carolina legislature introduced a bill that could drastically cut funding.
Inside Higher Ed reports that Senate Bill 873 proposes that five state universities—Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University and Fayetteville State University along with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (which has a large Native American population) and Western Carolina University—cut their tuition rates for in-state students to $500 per semester.
Though more affordable for students, the slash in costs would greatly decrease the school’s budget, and there’s no guarantee that the state would compensate for the lost funds. Ultimately, the schools could be downgraded to community college status. The bill also proposes renaming these institutions to increase application numbers and increase diversity.
“If they take our tuition and cut it to $500, what that translates to is a $26 million loss in revenue to the university,” Western College professor David McCord said to Inside Higher Education. “It’s an immediate alarm for us, because it can really do some huge damage.”
Lawmakers are framing the proposed legislation as a step in the right direction for these institutions, saying that college will now be more affordable for both in-state and out-of-state students (the bill proposed lowering the tuition for out-of-state students to $2,500 per semester).
There hasn’t been a date set for the vote.