“These 3 NC colleges drastically dropped tuition. The result was like a ‘booster rocket.’”

A new, lower tuition rate is drawing more students to three UNC campuses, resulting in record undergraduate enrollment growth this fall.

The NC Promise program, funded by the legislature at $51 million this year, allowed Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University to decrease their tuition to $1,000 a year for in-state undergraduates and $5,000 a year for out-of-state students.

Students are voting with their feet.

Overall, undergraduate enrollment has risen 19 percent at ECSU, 14 percent at UNCP and 6.6 percent at WCU, according to new figures released by the UNC system office. Among the first-year classes, ECSU and UNCP saw 20 percent increases, while WCU experienced a 10.5 percent jump.

But the biggest percentage growth came in the population of students who transferred from other schools. Transfer students increased 57 percent at ECSU, 56 percent at UNCP and 40 percent at Western Carolina.