UNC Board of Governors votes to increase WCU’s out-of-state freshman cap

With a final vote from the UNC Board of Governors on Jan. 19, WCU’s out-of-state freshman cap has increased from 18% to 25%. This ruling effectively loosens the restraint on WCU admissions.  

Mike Langford, director of undergraduate admissions for WCU said the UNC system was designed to make higher education available to North Carolina students and Langford stressed that is still WCU’s mission. 

“It’s not like we are turning North Carolina students away,” Langford said. He explained that the increase allows WCU admissions to take in more qualified out-of-state students when in-state students decline to attend.  

Langford says the reasoning behind this rise in the cap was formulated from many internal and external reasons. One of those is outside competition. Langford said that with graduation rates declining in northern states, colleges and universities up north are starting to look south, leaving fewer students for schools like Western. 

“You’ve got competition coming from everywhere, but we are limited… It’s a no-win situation by putting a cap on us,” Langford said. 

Langford explains that WCU is the westernmost 4-year institution in the state when most of the population centers in North Carolina are toward the east. This places WCU closer to bigger cities in Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia rather than in North Carolina.  

With WCU being named an “NC Promise” school back in 2018, the financial appeal to out-of-state students is undoubtedly there. This designation makes tuition $500 for in-state students and $2,500 for out-of-state students.  

The 25% cap will go into effect during the fall of 2023.  

According to the board: 

“The cap shall be equal to the percentage of the total number of first-time undergraduate students enrolled in the fall of the prior academic year.” 

This means that WCU will be allowed to enroll 483 out-of-state students in the fall of 2023, according to the still unofficial pre-census number of 1,931 total freshman enrollment last fall.  

If a school goes over the cap placed on them, they will face consequences. The first year the school goes over, they are issued a warning. If that continues into the next year, the school will have their state operating budget reduced.  

WCU’s Student Government Association passed a resolution in early December in favor of the increased cap.  

UNC-Asheville, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Pembroke and East Carolina University are among other schools who will have their out-of-state freshman cap increased for the fall of 2023.