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New scholarship makes more financial aid available for North Carolinian college-goers

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  • Back to school season arrives a little early after the announcement of a new scholarship for North Carolina students with household incomes of $80,000 or lower.
  • The Next NC Scholarship provides a "predictable" financial aid award for eligible students and puts higher education within reach.
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A new Next NC Scholarship announced this week awards full tuition and fees to students attending any of the state’s 58 community colleges. More than half of the costs can be covered for students attending the 16 public universities within the University of North Carolina system.

“Affordability is the number one issue for students and families considering college, and this scholarship will help keep a life-changing education within reach,” said UNC System President Peter Hans. “The Next NC Scholarship builds on North Carolina’s long tradition of low college costs and strong financial aid. We’re fortunate to live in a state with such consistent, bipartisan support for higher education.”

The Next NC Scholarship combines the federal Pell Grant with state-funded financial aid into one scholarship award. 

To be eligible for the Next NC Scholarship, students must be:

  • A North Carolina resident who is eligible for in-state tuition.
  • A high school graduate (high school equivalency completers are eligible).
  • From a household with an annual Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $80,000 or less.
  • Enrolled in an eligible undergraduate curriculum program for the 2024-25 academic year.
  • Taking at least six credit hours per semester (part-time students will receive a partial award).
  • Meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards of the school they plan to attend.
  • A student who has completed the 2024-25 FAFSA, with a resulting Student Aid Index (SAI) at or below 7,500 (once complete, the financial aid office at the college/university they plan to attend will determine and confirm eligibility).

Additionally, eligible North Carolina community college students will receive at least $3,000 per year. Those attending a public university within the UNC System will receive a minimum of $5,000 annually.

Along with tuition and fees, the scholarship can be used to cover any other expenses that support students through college. This can include things like books, food, and housing.

Kathy Hastings, director of outreach and communications at the North Carolina Education Assistance Authority, said that students with the greatest need can get the greatest support. 

“Students often think they can’t afford to go to college because financial aid is confusing,” Hastings said. “By combining federal and state aid, the Next NC Scholarship makes it easier to see that money is available so college becomes possible.”  

Students attending college next year are advised to fill out the FAFSA as soon as it opens, which is expected to be by Dec. 31, 2023, to make sure that they qualify. More information about the scholarship can be found at