Senate Bill 873. Politicians say it all the time: That they believe education is the most important thing to a community and the advancement of individuals. Then there comes the reality of policy. In one of the craftiest ways to cut funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a Republican North Carolina lawmaker is pushing legislation that would greatly lower the tuition in an effort he says will open “opportunity” to more students to attend schools. As if that’s been a big concern in the past.
“We are looking at this as a way to make more folks go to those schools and hopefully build up the enrollment,” said N.C. State Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) as reported by WNCN TV on May 31. “They know when they enter what they’ll have to pay for the tuition throughout the term and I think that’s pretty exciting,” he added.
Right. There are words and then there’s the reality of policy results.
The NAACP called the move an attack on HBCUs. “You can not claim this bill is about affordability when the bill drains funding from HBCUs which have been underfunded for years,” said Rev. William Barber, President of the NC NAACP.
By some amazing coincidence all of the schools targeted for tuition decreases (read: funding cuts) are Historically Black Colleges and Universities. They are: Winston-Salem State University, UNC-Pembroke, Fayetteville State University, Elizabeth City State University, and Western Carolina University.
Senate Bill 873 would lower the tuition at the schools to as little as $500 per semester. The result: The schools would have to enact cuts to various programs that attract students to attend. What would likely follow is: Students making the choice to go to college elsewhere.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities routinely get the short end of the stick when it comes to funding — whether it is state or federal. The lack of regard for HBCUs that has been demonstrated over eight years by the Obama Administration has led to HBCUs collectively undergoing one of the toughest periods in recent memory.