A distinguishing characteristic of North Carolina is its highly respected public higher education system. It’s a massive industry with about 240,000 students enrolled and about 22,000 full- and part-time employees at the 16 UNC System campuses. While total enrollment has increased about 7% in the last five years, system expenditures have increased 15% to nearly $5 billion. State appropriations make up about 60% of total revenue, while personnel costs comprise two-thirds of all expenses.
State policy and support have ensured that higher ed is a bargain in North Carolina. The average net prices of attending UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State University, after including average student aid packages, were second-lowest and fifth-lowest among the 125 best U.S. colleges, according to The Wall Street Journal.