Senate Passes Funding for NC Promise, Benefiting HBCUs
Then: When Republicans created program, Dems accused them of racism
Now: Program is wildly successful, saved Elizabeth City State University
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Senate tonight unanimously passed $15 million in additional funding for N.C. Promise, which is a policy enacted by the Republican General Assembly to guarantee $500 in-state tuition at three North Carolina colleges: Elizabeth City State University (ESCU), UNC Pembroke, and Western Carolina University.
Senator Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) said, “N.C. Promise is based on the idea that an education should be accessible to everybody, especially communities for which a quality, affordable education often seems out of reach. The program has been wildly successful, despite the unfortunate accusations leveled against Republicans when we created it.”
The program has turned around the fortunes of all three participating schools. ECSU in particular was at risk of closure before the program became law. Since then, the school has seen rapid enrollment growth. Last month, Moody’s referenced N.C. Promise as a reason for the university’s stable credit rating.
ECSU’s chancellor has previously credited N.C. Promise with the school’s success, saying enrollment growth “is a direct result of N.C. Promise.” Western Carolina University’s leaders have called N.C. Promise a “booster rocket.”
The unanimous vote is a sharp contrast to the acrimony surrounding the program’s creation in 2016.
Here are a few examples of what Democrats said of the plan back then:
· “Believe me, if this bill passes, in five years’ time, those three schools are going to be gone.” — Rep. Mickey Michaux
· “We must stand together [in opposing the bill]. This is a classic example of divide and conquer.” — Sen. Erica Smith
· “This bill attacks people of color directly. The goal is clear: disperse these centers of cultural, intellectual, and political power, and disrupt the mission of HBCUs by bankrupting them.” — Former North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber