Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center explores affordability of UNC system schools.

Each year, higher education seems to become less and less affordable: As tuition prices continue to rise, an increasing number of students leave college with crippling amounts of student loan debt.

Yet, some state university systems have managed to keep the cost of attendance down. One is in North Carolina, where the average cost of tuition and fees is $7,380—nearly $2,600 below the national average. And the Southern Regional Education Board (which evaluates all 16 southern states) reports that North Carolina’s public colleges and universities often are more affordable than the other southern states.

Much of what makes North Carolina’s colleges and universities so affordable is the state’s success in keeping tuition low.

And not only is tuition more affordable in North Carolina than in many other places in the country; low-income North Carolinians tend to receive more need-based financial aid and take on less debt. While low tuitions and scholarships make higher education affordable for the state’s residents, there are still other costs that could be cut to make higher education even more economical—for both students and taxpayers.

Still, the efforts to keep costs low for students are ongoing.