The NC House budget has been roundly criticized for its large spending increase and provisions for special interests, but at least one new program in the bill will actually save the state money.

The North Carolina Guaranteed Admission Program (NCGAP), which the Pope Center recommended here as a replacement for summer bridge programs, will divert $13 million dollars from the UNC system to North Carolina community colleges, where the money can be used much more efficiently. The House Budget directs schools in the UNC system to defer enrollment for 1305 academically weak students until after they have earned an associate’s degree at a community college. Those students will then be guaranteed admission to UNC schools as juniors.

As Jesse Saffron explained last year, the program saves money, but it also helps students:

Yes, the state’s taxpayers would be better off. But students—especially those from academically inferior K-12 environments—would be the big winners. Rather than go directly to a four-year college and be in over their heads, they could build their skills and study habits, obtain a two-year degree, and then transition to a four-year university. By that time, they will have proved that they have the skills, motivation, and desire to succeed.

To be sure, there are more than 1305 academically weak students at UNC. But this provision could be the beginning of a new, streamlined, and efficient route to educational success for North Carolina’s unprepared students.

The proposed budget can be found here. Scroll to page 72 to read about NC GAP.