NC Senator: Two HBCUs “Begging” Back In for SB873

Less than a month after protests and criticism forced the removal of three public historically black colleges and universities from a controversial tuition-reduction bill proposal in North Carolina, the bill’s author says that two HBCUs are ‘begging’ to be added back into the bill’s language in the face of falling enrollment projections.

The News & Observer reports on revelations from NC Republican Senator Tom Apodaca, who says that Elizabeth City State University and an ‘unnamed’ second university are looking to be rejoin SB873, proposing to reduce tuition to $500 per semester for in-state students, and $2,500 for out-of-state students at five public schools, including Winston-Salem State University, Fayetteville State University and ECSU.

Apodaca said this week that Elizabeth City State University and another unnamed HBCU want to participate. “Two of the three have already been back begging to come back in,” the Hendersonville Republican said.

“I think you may see (ECSU) back in,” Apodaca added. Due to plummeting enrollment, “they’re in serious trouble,” he said.

The original bill also proposed changing the names of the three schools and subsidizing more than $70 million in state appropriations to fill in gaps caused by tuition revenue shortfalls caused by the lowered tuition.

But a lack of guarantee for future gap funding sparked massive protests from students and alumni last month, and forced Apodaca to remove the black colleges from its language.

Elizabeth City State officials confirmed their interest in a new proposal, that ensures sustainable outcomes for the schools.

Chancellor Thomas Conway confirmed ECSU’s interest but said it’s contingent on changes to the proposal.

“We have expressed, through UNC-General Administration, interest in being part of the bill if there is appropriate funding, and if there are changes in what is described as the $500 tuition,” Conway said in a statement that didn’t elaborate on the changes needed.

“We believe that this can be packaged in an even more positive way.”

The News & Observer reports that a deal which could include HBCUs could be finalized this weekend.

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