After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action cannot be used for admissions into universities, the University of North Carolina decided to continue efforts into making education affordable and accessible by granting all students whose families make under $80,000 a year free tuition.
In a message to the UNC community on Friday, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced that starting with the class of 2024, tuition and fees would be covered by the university for those who fit the income criteria. "We want to make sure students know financial constraints should not stand in the way of their dreams," Guskiewicz said in the statement.
UNC was directly involved with the Supreme Court’s decision against affirmative action. In a 6-3 decision, justices found that both Harvard University and UNC violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment due to their race-conscious admissions programs.
"Our responsibility to comply with the law does not mean we will abandon our fundamental values as a university,” Guskiewicz said. “We are and will remain passionately public, and we will ensure that every student who earns admission to Carolina can come here and thrive. Our University’s commitment to access and affordability and supporting a culture of belonging for everyone does not change with last week’s ruling,” he continued, giving respect to the decision while emphasizing UNC’s efforts of affordable, accessible education.
The affirmative action decision was a landmark ruling, which effectively upends the practice as it has been applied at universities and colleges nationwide. Some schools like the University of California system and the University of Michigan were forced to cease their affirmative action practices years ago through other cases. The result was a significant drop in student body diversity.
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Guskiewicz also informed the community of several new outreach officers recently hired on the undergraduate admissions team to aid access for future students in underserved communities.
“We want to make sure students know financial constraints should not stand in the way of their dreams,” he said.
UNC is not the only one providing assistance to students in the wake of the affirmative action decision. Duke University, announced in June that it would begin providing full tuition grants for undergraduates from North and South Carolina whose families make less than $150,000, according to Raleigh, N.C., station WRAL.