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On May 20, the UNC Board of Governors voted to freeze tuition and fees for all 16 North Carolina public universities for the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNC System Spokesperson Jason Tyson.

Due to the UNC System’s fixed tuition standard, as outlined on the UNC System website, students who enroll in a UNC System school for the 2020-21 school year will be charged the same tuition rate for eight semesters, unless they do not attend for two consecutive semesters. 

Prior to the pandemic, 12 of the 16 schools in the UNC System, including NC State, requested undergraduate tuition and fee raises for the first time in three years, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. When the UNC Board of Governors voted to freeze tuition and fee increases, the requests were automatically denied.

In accordance with the fixed tuition program, universities were allowed to request a 3% maximum tuition increase. NC State had requested a 2.5% increase, according to Mick Kulikowski, assistant director for news and national media coordinator at University Relations. 

Of the schools in the UNC System, NC State has the highest annual tuition and fee rates charged to in-state undergraduates, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. Annual estimated tuition and fees for NC State is currently $9,100, according to the NC State Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Other UNC system schools’ average annual in-state undergraduate tuition and fees include UNC-Chapel Hill at $9,018 and Appalachian State University at $7,710, as reported by their respective websites. 

University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments President Isaiah Green, who was able to sit in on the UNC Board of Governors’ meetings, explained the reasoning behind the Board’s decision.

“I think they just wanted to make sure that we weren’t putting that burden on the backs of North Carolinians; so many people have lost their jobs due to this pandemic,” Green said.

Instead of acquiring new money through increased tuition, schools will have to seek the revenue in other areas, according to Tyson. 

“We’re not sure what revenues are going to look like,” Tyson said. “We’ll probably know more in the summer what revenues are going to look like, and where the aid is coming from. We’ll know then what the legislature is going to do, both the state and federal side, what’s going to come in, where we’re going to be short.”