During the House's six-hour budget debate Thursday, plenty of amendments got thrown at the wall.
One, by Onslow County Republican George Cleveland, would have stripped from the budget a provision that would require all of the state's community colleges to participate in federal student loan programs.
Currently 21 of the state's 58 campuses offer the federal loans, which offer lower interest rates, and 52 percent of the state's community college students can't get federal loans for their degree programs.
Cleveland said the provision puts campuses at risk of losing a host of federal funding if too many students default. Many campus leaders are against the idea because they can be punished but have no authority to deny the loans to students who are at a high risk of default.
"For us to make a decision that the community college presidents don't know how to run their colleges is poor," Cleveland said. "Are any of your community colleges lacking for students? Have any of your community college students contacted you and said I can't get money for school?"
Rep. Ray Rapp, a Mars Hill Democrat, who has pushed for the change said that fears of campuses losing federal money are highly exaggerated, and it's unfair that some campuses offer cheap loans and some don't.
The provision would move $50 million from community college classrooms to pay for counselors and staff to administer the loan programs.
"Before these students take the loans, we want them to get adequate counseling and advising," he said.
Cleveland's amendment failed, but the issue will resurface when the Senate and House meet to hammer out a compromise budget. The House version permanently diverts the $50 million but only requires the schools to offer the loan programs for one year.
For students on a two year degree track, that could be trouble, said Sam Watts, an analyst at the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research. Offering the loans for a year, presumably to ensure that the programs are working, doesn't leave enough time for administrators to gather data on how many students defaulted or successfully repaid the loans.
"The version that passed the House is not a good deal for students," Watts said. "While it's presumably well-intentioned, it's definitely ill-constructed."