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Across the past two decades, Carolina has engaged in continuing efforts to consider and use race-neutral strategies, including through annual meetings with experts and peers in the field, staying abreast of the latest research and discussion of race-neutral strategies, and following the outcomes and experiences of other universities that have tested race-neutral alternatives.

In addition, the University has conducted its own analyses into additional race-neutral alternatives. The trial court agreed the evidence shows that replacing our holistic process with race-neutral alternatives – including those examined by Carolina and others suggested by SFFA – would not allow us to achieve the educational benefits of diversity about as well as the current holistic process without sacrificing academic quality standards.

The University, however, does use race-neutral strategies to bolster diversity – both racial and ethnic, as well as socioeconomic. In addition to admission fee waivers, just a few examples of these efforts include:

  • 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 Jan. 1, 2022, the Campaign for Carolina had raised $810 million for student support (undergraduate, graduate and professional) including $64.5 million for the Carolina Covenant, which has brought over 10,000 scholars to Chapel Hill 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 – most in rural counties – to ensure the University meets the needs of talented transfer students before they arrive in Chapel Hill. To date, 85 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 advantages of a college education and guide prospective students through the admissions process. In 2020-2021, 57 advisers served nearly 15,000 graduating seniors at 78 high schools across North Carolina. Eighty percent of those high schools were in rural locations.
  • 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. 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 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.