RALEIGH: Students use 'Fight Back Friday' to combat student debt - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Students use 'Fight Back Friday' to combat student debt

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"Fight Back Fridays" demonstrators march to the legislature and the Capitol to deliver petitions to House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory. "Fight Back Fridays" demonstrators march to the legislature and the Capitol to deliver petitions to House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

While Moral Monday protesters voice their opposition to the Republican-led legislature, a group of students and graduates from the University of North Carolina system are using Fight Back Fridays to challenge rising education costs.

Part of the North Carolina Student Power Union's Debt-Free UNC Campaign, organizers, students and graduates took their message to the legislature and the Capitol on Friday, delivering petitions to House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory.

The group wants better funding for the UNC system to increase financial aid and decrease tuition. The ultimate goal is for future students to be debt free by the year 2020.

"We know that if we're going to make an investment in people, we need every student in North Carolina who’s bright enough to be able to go to school to be able to afford to go [to school] here in this state," explained Matt Hickson with the N.C. Student Power Union.

Demonstrators marched on Raleigh with 18,000 red patches they say represent the number of students in the UNC system who are graduating with giant debt. The group said students average more than $20,000 in debt when they graduate.

"I got two degrees, which means two degrees worth of student debt," field organizer D'atra Jackson said. "I have over $100,000 of student debt that I am trying to pay off."

Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake County) is the senior house appropriations chair and says he understands the students' concerns about tuition.

"We want students to be able to afford their higher education. It's very critical for the economy," Dollar said. "We want to keep tuition reasonable in the state of North Carolina."

Dollar added that the cost of higher education in North Carolina "is much lower than in a number of other states."

The group said Fight Back Fridays will happen monthly in different locations throughout the state.

"We're definitely going to fight," UNC Charlotte student Case Aldridge said. "We've started the Fight Back Friday movement -- this is a part of that."

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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