Access and Affordability
UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the nation’s few public flagship campuses to practice need-blind admissions and provide low-debt, full-need student aid. This approach makes the promise of a Carolina education possible for all students regardless of their financial means. We provide a variety of financial aid for students, including merit- and need-based scholarships and work study. Carolina long has been one of the nation’s only two public universities to fully fund 100 percent of demonstrated need among eligible students.
Carolina ranks among the top universities in the nation and around the world. In 2023 rankings, U.S. News & World Report listed UNC-Chapel Hill 5th among public universities for the 22nd consecutive year, as well as the best value among public universities for the 18th time. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 2022 College Rankings named Carolina the No. 1 public college in the South, 3rd among all U.S. public universities and 33rd among both public and private universities. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed UNC-Chapel Hill 52nd among the world’s top 1,600 research universities. And the most recent Kiplinger’s Personal Finance assessment in 2019 ranked Carolina the No. 1 best value in U.S. public higher education for the 18th time.
In 2004, UNC-Chapel Hill launched the Carolina Covenant, a ground-breaking program that supports the full financial need of academically qualified low-income students so they may graduate debt-free. As of June 2022, the Campaign for Carolina had raised $889.9 million for student support (undergraduate, graduate and professional) including $67.7 million for the Carolina Covenant, which has brought over 10,500 scholars to Chapel Hill and led to dramatically improved graduation rates among our lowest-income students. Recent enhancements have included creating a support network to help Carolina Covenant Scholars increase career readiness and admission to advanced degree programs.
In 2006, with the help of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, UNC-Chapel Hill launched the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), which partners with 14 community colleges in North Carolina – most in rural counties – to identify talented low-and moderate-income community college students and to provide a pathway for admission to UNC-Chapel Hill. The program expanded in 2019 to include two new community colleges and a new initiative to help prepare those students for jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The expansion was made possible by a grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation. In the program’s first 13 years, 85 percent of C-STEP students graduated from Carolina.
In 2007, again with the help of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, UNC-Chapel Hill founded the Carolina College Advising Corps, which places recent Carolina graduates as admissions and financial-aid advisers in underserved high schools across North Carolina to reinforce the advantages of a college education and guide prospective students through the admissions process. During 2021–2022, the program included 50 advisers serving nearly 10,500 graduating seniors in 63 under-resourced high schools. The Corps builds a statewide pipeline to college for students and now provides opportunities for advisers to gain AmeriCorps service credit and experience toward graduate study or a career.
In 2017, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation awarded Carolina its Cooke Prize for Equity in Education Excellence to recognize years of dedication to providing support and opportunities for thousands of deserving students. Carolina was the first public university to receive the foundation’s $1 million award, which celebrates success in enrolling low-income students and supporting them through graduation.
In 2018, the University expanded its commitment to access and affordability for North Carolina families with a $20 million scholarship initiative to provide financial aid for middle-income undergraduate students from North Carolina as part of the Campaign for Carolina. The privately funded Blue Sky Scholars program fills an important gap by supporting exceptionally qualified North Carolina residents from middle-class backgrounds who qualify for financial aid but do not meet the requirements for the Carolina Covenant.