BTC BRIEF: Underpreparing for the Future - North Carolina’s Divestment in Post-Secondary Education

By Alexandra Forter Sirota & Brenna Burch
NC Budget & Tax
April 2012


  • Post-secondary institutions in North Carolina sustained a $917.2 million state budget cut in the 2011-13 state budget passed in the spring of 2011. The University of North Carolina system saw its state appropriation cut by $682.2 million and community college system by $235 million.
  • State investment in higher education has declined sharply over the Great Recession, with the most recent budget cuts reducing appropriations for post-secondary education to a 40-year low as a share of the North Carolina economy. In 2011-2012, North Carolina policymakers invested just $9.88 per $1,000 in state personal income in post-secondary education, down from the 30-year average of $12.37.
  • While the cost of post-secondary education has increased, financial assistance has decreased. Within the university system, tuition has increased by 23 percent since last year, while need-based aid has declined by 22 percent. Community college tuition increased by 17.7 percent over the same period, while need-based aid remained flat.
  • Despite the importance of post-secondary completion to North Carolina’s future economy, policymakers cut back on critical investments to support students in finishing their educational programs as they also struggled with rising costs and declining state financial aid.
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