UNCC student pays parking fines worth $110 in pennies

A University of North Carolina at Charlotte student protested a parking ticket by paying the $110 fine in pennies.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A pattern of illegal parking for a local college student now has him protesting what his fine money's being used for. And his way to send a message? Paying in pennies.

Stephen Coyle knows he broke the rules.

"You parked in the visitor parking," Coyle said. "I parked in the two decks beside that."

He's tallied up multiple citations on UNCC's campus this summer, but it lead to a shocking discovery. State law only lets the school keep 20% of the fines.

"Eighty-percent of your tickets have gone to fund other schools," Coyle said.

The funding goes to other public schools in the area, which is why he's been handing out flyers to students.

"Most of the time they have no idea where their money is going," Coyle said. "And when they do find out, they're pretty upset."

So when he paid his $110 fine he decided to let them count.

"Getting 11,000 pennies isn't very easy," Coyle said.

Coyle went to three different banks to get five $25 boxes containing 2500 pennies. That got him to reach his total of 11,000.

"And I brought them in three separate buckets for them," Coyle said.

He sat there while two workers counted every single penny.

"It took them approximately three hours and 40 minutes," Coyle said.

Not time well spent, and Coyle says it's not money well spent.

"The money should be reinvested back into the students, in my opinion," Coyle said.

"The real problem is inadequate funding by the state for higher education and secondary education," said State Representative Kelly Alexander.

Alexander says taking that funding from the public schools means they'd need to find more money somewhere else.

"Until we address that issue, we're just moving chairs around on the deck of the Titanic," Alexander said.

Coyle also created a Facebook page and GoFundMe for his "Let them count" protest campaign.


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