Local News

Bill Would Take Away UNC Tuition Break for N.C. School of Science & Math Students

Posted April 2, 2007 9:41 p.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2007 11:43 a.m. EDT

— Two state representatives want to repeal a law that gives students at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham free tuition at the University of North Carolina.

The two sponsors of the bill say it's simply not fair to give only the high school students at the select science and math school a break on their college tuition. Others say it’s an incentive that keeps the state's best and brightest at state colleges.

Chris Qin was one of a select few chosen to attend the school. While he said that he loves the competitive learning environment there, he said the free UNC tuition is attractive to him and his fellow students.

"A lot of the people at the school choose that as their reason for coming to the school,” Qin said.

A reported 82 percent of graduates attend a UNC system school, up from 55 percent before the law took effect. Out of 300 seniors this year, all but six applied to schools within the UNC system.

However, Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, one of the sponsors, said it's not fair to other top students in the state.

"I can't think of the reasons why you would just pick out one the hundreds of high schools for this,” Stam said.

Administrators at the school said that taking the tuition break away from those students would send the wrong message to gifted scholars in the future.

"To take it away would really be a step backward, as far as supporting education,” said Lauren Everhart, communications director at the school. “I think it would really send the wrong message."

Students at the N.C. School of Science and Math already get a high school education valued at up to $25,000 a year at taxpayers’ expense. It's estimated that the program costs the state $2 million a year.