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Free Tuition May Be Incentive To Keep N.C. State Employees

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Some North Carolina State workers say more needs to be done to retain and recruit good workers, but many university employees think free tuition is one answer.

When she is not studying or in class, Jessica Cooper is working to put herself through college. She does not think a new proposal is fair. It would offer free tuition to the children and spouses of N.C. State workers.

"I think I'd be perturbed by it," she said.

N.C. State's Faculty and Staff Senate's both passed resolutions supporting tuition waivers.

With a 10-year-old and 14-year-old, English professor Meredith Fosque would stick around.

"Other schools do this, and I was surprised I didn't find it here," she said.

Children and spouses would have to go through the application process just like everybody else. Faculty leaders estimate about 400 dependents a year would take advantage of the program at N.C. State.

The estimated cost would be about $1 million a year at N.C. State. Employees propose taking the money from somewhere else in the school's $840 million budget. They do not want to raise tuition.

To offer any incentive, state lawmakers would have to change the statute. Republican John Sauls has concerns.

"It saddens me that we haven't taken care of our state employees over the last several years that they even have to ask for this," he said.

Democrat Douglas Yonge said it is a proposal you cannot ignore.

"We want to be competitive and keep the best we can keep," he said.

In its legislative agenda, the UNC Board of Governors suggests a 25 percent discount at all state schools. N.C. State faculty leaders will keep pushing for more.

Hundreds of public universities in the Southeast offer tuition waivers. Many private schools do, too. Duke employees receive 75 percent of the school's tuition. The money can be used at any school.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that faculty leaders estimate about 100 dependents a year would take advantage of the program at N.C. State.


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