Higher college costs have long-term effect

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Campuses in the University of North Carolina system are raising tuition again, an unwanted tradition that hits the state’s best and brightest students just as they’re trying to prepare themselves for careers that often benefit all of us.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s trustees have approved a tuition increase of $600 per year, beginning next fall. East Carolina University has approved 5.25 percent increase for 2013-14. Other campuses are annnoucing similar hikes.

As we’ve pointed out many times before, North Carolina’s constitution specifically says the legislature should do everything it can to keep higher education costs as close to free as possible. But with revenue shortfalls and budget crises greeting lawmakers practically every year in recent memory, legislators are pulled from all sides by critical needs in public schools, roads, prisons and ... well, just about every agency that needs state funding.

Cutting higher education might stitch up a budget hole in the short term, but it hurts the state well into the future.

North Carolina has every right to be proud of the UNC system. But if our best and brightest can no longer afford to attend, the state will have a hard time attracting the kinds of employers that make a positive, long-term impact on our economy.