University of North Carolina’s free tuition a band-aid solution to fixing unaffordable costs, expert says

Jul 10, 2023, 3:04 PM

students walk on the U of U campus,...

Students walk on campus at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. The University of Utah is changing its policy on covering tuition costs for employees. Not everyone is pleased with this change. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Following the Supreme Court’s ruling against student loan debt forgiveness, the University of North Carolina has announced that it will begin offering free tuition for undergraduate students. One public affairs effort said the announcement is a bandaid solution to attracting new students amid high tuition costs.

University of North Carolina’s plan will waive undergraduate tuition costs for those earning less than $80,000 annually. The caveat is that the recipient must establish residency in the state of North Carolina by living there for at least one year. 

Dave and Dujanovic spoke with public affairs expert and frequent KSL At Night host Taylor Morgan about the decision, and he said he views UNC’s decision as a band-aid to the rising tuition costs across the country. 

“I believe the real problem is the skyrocketing cost of higher education throughout the country,” said Morgan, adding that the cost of a four-year degree has jumped over the last 15 years.

Morgan addressed concerns about other states losing revenue from those who are offering free tuition to residents and said, “Let people move, because then we might do something about the cost, and if you are upending your family and moving across the country because college is that expensive, we’ve got a problem with the cost.”

According to the University of Utah’s Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, the total estimated cost of attendance for a Utah resident choosing to live off campus during the 2023-34 school year will be $36, 500. 

High college tuition costs are forcing students to take out loans. They are then stuck with that loan for 20 years after graduation, noted Debbie Dujanovic, one of the hosts of the Dave and Dujanovic show. The average college loan is $38,000, she added. 


Morgan suggested that “we need to have a conversation about higher education and understand that not every high school student in North Carolina is equipped — or will — benefit necessarily by going to the University of North Carolina.”

Education is not one size fits all, Morgan added, saying that different types of schools benefit different students.

Morgan said that at some point, Utah’s schools will not be able to compete with other states unless they begin offering similar tuition rates. People might plan to move to other states so their children can have access to affordable education, he stated. 

He said it creates pressure in the marketplace. 

“It’s time, because for so long colleges and universities were raising rates to the point where people were being priced out,” said Morgan about the need to lower costs. 

Free tuition

Despite the clear need for college tuition prices to be reduced, Morgan questioned if students will value attending college if they are able to attend for free. “At the time,” he said, “you probably worked hard to get yourself through college. I did too, and I showed up to every class.”

Morgan added that he felt the need to attend class and do readings because he was paying his way through and believes students value their education more when they are paying for it, however, they can not afford the current cost. 

Related reading: New Utah law could extend in-state tuition to refugees & asylum seekers

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University of North Carolina’s free tuition a band-aid solution to fixing unaffordable costs, expert says