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House approves in-state tuition rates for athletic scholarship students

Restoration of an old state law allowing University of North Carolina system campuses to treat out-of-state students with full athletic scholarships like in-state students has cleared one legislative chamber.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Restoration of an old state law allowing University of North Carolina system campuses to treat out-of-state students with full athletic scholarships like in-state students has cleared one legislative chamber.

The House voted 88-19 on Monday night for the measure to repeal a 2010 state law that prevented the in-state tuition designation, which would generally benefit athletic booster clubs that cover the scholarships. In-state tuition is subsidized by the state.

But critics say somebody – namely taxpayers – would have to cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, an amount that could reach millions of dollars a year annually.

Bill supporters say it's a matter of fairness, since out-of-state students who receive full academic scholarships are already treated as in-state students.

Rep. John Hardister, R-Guilford, called the proposal a jobs bill, saying smaller UNC schools could recruit better athletes, boosting sales of game tickets, school apparel and other items.

But Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, called it "terrible policy," noting that booster clubs at UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and East Carolina University have huge budgets and can afford paying out-of-state rates. Her amendment to limit the lower in-state rates to smaller campuses was defeated, however.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

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