North Carolina might not have a whole lot in common with Wyoming, but it does share one thing: A requirement in its state constitution to keep university tuition as low as possible. 1
And thoroughly Republican Wyoming 2 is struggling to keep that commitment.
Wyoming consistently ranks among the top three states in state appropriations per student. Â In fact, while North Carolina provided a generous $8,894 per student in FY2015, Wyoming provided almost twice that â a whopping $17,300 in state dollars per student. 3
Wyoming has also resisted the trend of shifting the financial burden for higher education from the state to students and their families.
While state universities nationwide have seen an average increase of 31.8% in tuition and fees since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008 and North Carolina has raised tuition by 37.6%, Wyoming has raised tuition by a mere 3.4%, to an average of $3,033. 4
To be sure, there are differences: Â Wyoming has oil and gas revenue â and because of a decline in those revenues, the University of Wyoming is grappling with $41 million in state budget cuts over two years. 5
And Wyomingâs university âsystemâ consists of a single campus in Laramie with 13,000 students, compared with 225,000 students spread across 17 University of North Carolina campuses.
Yet despite those differences, it remains a red state that appears to value higher education.
1Â http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Legislation/constitution/ncconstitution.html, Article IX, Section 9: âBenefits of public institutions of higher education.Â The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.â
http://www.uwyo.edu/robertshistory/wyoming_constitution_full_text.htm, Article 7, Sec. 16: Â âTuition free.Â The university shall be equally open to students of both sexes, irrespective of race or color; and, in order that the instruction furnished may be as nearly free as possible, any amount in addition to the income from its grants of lands and other sources above mentioned, necessary to its support and maintenance in a condition of full efficiency shall be raised by taxation or otherwise, under provisions of the legislature.â
The other state with a similar constitutional provision is Arizona.
4Â Ibid, pp. 40-41.