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Elizabeth City State University

In North Carolina, admitting out-of-state students to the public university system has long been controversial. After all, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University could easily fill their classes with outstanding students from other states. As a result, there has been for years a policy that out-of-state students make up no more than 18 percent of students at each of the system’s colleges. And there’s a financial penalty involved for any college that exceeds the target for two years.

Last year, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors recognized that not all of its institutions are Chapel Hill. It gave permission to the system’s five historically Black colleges to admit 25 percent of their students from out of state. And last week, the system went even further: North Carolina A&T State University and North Carolina Central University may now go to 35 percent, and Elizabeth City State University may go up to 50 percent. (Fayetteville State University and Winston-Salem State University stay at 25 percent.)

North Carolina A&T has had considerable success, and not just in admissions. “Historically large private donations and its eight-year capital campaign recently generated a record $181 million in giving to the Greensboro-based university,” said The Pulse, of NC Policy Watch. “Fall 2021 enrollment was 13,332—up 6 percent over 2019. The school is already meeting its obligation of admitting as many well qualified North Carolinians as it can, administrators say. But they say they’re turning away too many well qualified out-of-state students because of the current cap. Raising that cap another 10 percent should help with that as the school continues to grow.”

At Elizabeth City State, officials predict success with the new policy. Last fall, total enrollment was 2,054. Of that, 324 were full-time freshmen—218 were in-state students and 106 were out-of-state. Using the new 50 percent figure, the university would have been able to accept another 112 out-of-state students.

Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon said in response to the vote, “All eligible incoming students from North Carolina will continue to be the top priority for admittance to ECSU, and we look forward to the opportunity to develop more leaders from beyond our borders.”

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