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North Carolina Scholarships and Financial Aid

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

North Carolina is one of the original 13 colonies, and as such, it has a long history. The state opened the first public university in the United States in 1795. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has expanded to include 16 other campuses. North Carolina is also home to 58 public community colleges and many private post-secondary educational institutions, including Duke University. Students who choose to attend any of these schools may be eligible to receive financial assistance.

Finding North Carolina Scholarships and Financial Aid Programs

North Carolina scholarships and financial aid programs are available from the following groups and institutions:

  • U.S. Government—federal grants and loans
  • North Carolina state government—grants, scholarships, and loans
  • Individual North Carolina universities and colleges—scholarships
  • Outside groups—foundations, professional associations, and corporations

Grants and Loans from the U.S. Government

North Carolina students with financial need may qualify for federal financial aid. The U.S. Government offers grants, which do not need to be paid back, and low-interest loans, which do need to be paid back. All students who wish to be considered for federal financial aid must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA applications are available on January 1, the year before the year you need aid. The national deadline is usually June 30, the year you need the aid, but students are encouraged to apply as early as possible or funds may run out. Your school may also have a deadline for the FAFSA. Check with your financial aid office to be sure you don’t miss it.

If you qualify for federal financial aid, your financial aid office will decide how much assistance you need and offer you a package, which may include grants and/or loans. You may accept as much or as little as you like.

Grants, Scholarships, and Loans from the State of North Carolina

North Carolina offers several financial aid programs to help its students with educational expenses. Here’s a list of them:

EARN Scholarship
This need-based North Carolina financial aid program assists students so they don’t have to borrow loans during their first years in college. Awards ($4,000 maximum) will depend on students’ FAFSA application.

North Carolina’s Education Lottery Scholarship
Grants between $100 and $2,500 per year are available to help North Carolina students who have financial need. Awards are offered depending on students’ FAFSA applications. Students must be North Carolina residents.

North Carolina’s Community Grant & Loan Program
This program is offered to residents with financial need (based on the FAFSA) who are enrolled at least half-time (6 units) at a community college in North Carolina.

University of North Carolina Need-Based Grant
This North Carolina financial aid program supports students who are enrolled at a University of North Carolina campus. Awards are based on students’ FAFSA applications.

North Carolina Legislative Tuition Grant
Students who are attending independent, nonprofit schools in North Carolina may qualify for this grant. This program is not based on financial need.

Career Specific Scholarship Loans
Students who are pursuing careers in teaching, nursing (RN or LPN), health, science, or math may be eligible to borrow these forgivable loans. Loans are forgiven for service after graduation or licensure.

State Contractual Scholarship Fund
This program assists North Carolina resident students who are planning to attend or are attending private schools in North Carolina. Awards depend on students’ FAFSA applications.

Student Incentive Grant
This need-based North Carolina financial aid program provides $700 per year to resident students who are attending accredited post-secondary institutions in North Carolina. Awards depend on students’ FAFSA applications.

Aubrey Lee Brooks Scholarships
Students planning to attend North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or the University of North Carolina at Greensboro full-time may be eligible for this $8,000 (maximum) scholarship. Students must be from eligible counties. Click here to see a list of eligible counties. Apply here.

College Foundation of North Carolina
There are various financial aid programs available to students through this foundation. Most scholarships require students to apply online.

Individual University and College Scholarships in North Carolina

North Carolina university and college scholarships are offered to students depending on academic achievement, need, major, special ability, leadership/community service, and any combination of these things. Some scholarships based on academic achievement are offered to students either when they apply for admission to the school or by their academic performance while currently enrolled. Other scholarships, such as those based on major or special ability, may require an application. Financial aid or scholarship offices have different application procedures for these scholarships. Check with your financial aid or scholarship office to see what is required of you.

Outside Scholarships for North Carolina Students

Another group that provides scholarships is North Carolina corporations, associations, and foundations. Here are just some of the scholarships you may find out there:

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina
Award: Various scholarships offered to high school seniors and current college students.
Qualifications: Most of the scholarships are offered only to North Carolina residents who exhibit academic merit, leadership and involvement, and financial need. Click here for a list of scholarships available in each county served by the community foundation.

North Carolina Community College Faculty Association
Award: $1,000 available to one student from the west, the east, and the central parts of North Carolina.
Qualifications: Students must be nominated by a member of NCCCFA.
Applications: Download an application here.
Deadline: See association homepage for current deadline or email the association at info@ncccfa.org.

North Carolina Recreation & Park Association (NCRPA) Scholarship Foundation
Award: One undergraduate and one graduate scholarship.
Qualifications: Applicants must be members of NCRPA and residents of North Carolina.
Deadline: See the association website for current deadline.

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation
Award: Two scholarships worth $750.
Qualifications: Applicants must be members of the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association and must be currently studying at the associate or professional levels.
Application: Click here to download an application.
Deadline: See the foundation website for current deadline.

North Carolina Community Foundation
Award: Hundreds of scholarships funds available to students by county.
Qualifications: Varies depending on scholarships. Click here to see what scholarships are available.

Three Things to Keep In Mind While Searching for North Carolina Scholarships and Financial Aid

  • Many states have state FAFSA deadlines, but North Carolina doesn’t. However, your school may have its own FAFSA deadlines. Make sure you talk to your financial aid office so you don’t miss its deadline.
  • The North Carolina College Foundation offers many scholarships to students pursuing careers in fields with a shortage in professionals. Check the foundation website to see if you qualify for any of them.
  • Outside scholarships are a great way of funding your education. The best way to search is to start with local organizations, businesses, and professional groups. National scholarships are a little harder to win because more people apply.

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