A new bill was signed into law in North Carolina; it repeals the tuition surcharge within the UNC System.

In the past, students would be charged a 50% penalty if they take longer than anticipated to complete their degrees.

Makayla Luke, a public health major, will be a junior at East Carolina University this fall.

She, like many others, didn’t know how she was going to pay for college.

Makayla said, “My parents weren’t in a place where they could contribute much if anything so that was a huge burden, senior year of high school was so stressful.”

And that’s the reality for so many.

A bi-partisan bill just passed in Raleigh ending the tuition surcharge at UNC Schools.

In the past, students who took more than 140 degree credit hours to complete a bachelor degree in a 4-year program or more than 110% of the credit hours to complete a bachelor degree in a five-year program — those students were charged a 50% penalty on their tuition.

Makayla said, “At that point, I feel like that’s such a motivator for people to say, screw it”

It was meant to hit people who weren’t motivated, but lawmakers say the surcharge actually impacted students who transferred from community colleges, or who maybe had to take time off for family reasons.

Senate Bill 225, known as the “Repeal Tuition Surcharge” bill got rid of that 50% penalty.

Senator Jim Perry sponsored the bill that got bi-partisan support.

Perry represents Wayne and Lenoir counties.

Perry said, “If there’s a group of people on this earth that we don’t want to have a barrier in front of, it’s certainly the ones who are really trying, we don’t need to make it harder for, this seemed like the right thing to do.”

9 On Your Side spoke to the admissions department at ECU, they say they hope people can still try to graduate in a timely manner but they fully support this change and hope it will help more people earn degrees.

Something Makayla says is a good thing, she said, “It’s a better way for people to be able to do that, finish and everything and be able to get their degree and hopefully get that better paying job.”

UNC System schools include: Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, UNC Asheville, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, UNC School of the Arts, Western Carolina University, Winston-Salem State University, and NC School of Science and Mathematics.

To view Senate Bill 225, click here.