Access and Affordability
Carolina is committed to providing access to a high-quality, affordable education to students from all backgrounds. We provide a variety of financial aid for students, including merit- and need-based scholarships, work study, and grants. The University is one of the nation’s few public flagship campuses to practice need-blind admissions and provide low-debt, full-need student aid.
For the 18th time, Carolina was ranked as the No.1 best value in American public higher education in 2019, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Carolina has topped the list every year Kiplinger’s has published a “best value” list. The University also climbed 12 spots on the overall “best value” list to No. 2 among both public and private campuses.
In 2004, UNC-Chapel Hill launched the Carolina Covenant, a ground-breaking program for academically qualified low-income students that offers a debt-free path to graduation through a combination of grants, scholarships and work-study jobs. As of June 30, 2021, the Campaign for Carolina has raised $197 million for scholarships and student aid. Of that, donors have committed nearly $64 million to the Carolina Covenant, a program that has brought over 10,000 scholars to Carolina and led to dramatically improved graduation rates among our lowest-income students.
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 to ensure the University meets the needs of talented transfer students before they arrive in Chapel Hill. To date, 86 percent of C-STEP students have graduated from the University.
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 importance of a college education and guide prospective students through the admissions process. The program now has 59 advisers serving 15,000 graduating seniors in 79 high schools across North Carolina.
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 new $20 million scholarship initiative to provide financial aid for middle-income undergraduate students from North 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.
In early 2019, UNC-Chapel Hill expanded the nationally recognized C-STEP program 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 fall 2019, the University partnered with Richmond County Community College to bring the total number of C-STEP partner schools to 14.