Access and affordability at Carolina

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 17th time, Carolina was ranked as the best value in American public higher education in 2017, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Recognized for upholding academic quality and affordability, Carolina ranked No. 1 among public colleges and universities in two categories: best in-state and best out-of-state value.

In 2004, UNC-Chapel Hill launched the Carolina Covenant, a commitment to debt-free financial aid for its neediest students. More than 700 students are designated as Covenant Scholars each year. More than half are both students of color and the first in their immediate families to go to college. Scholars must first quality through the University’s need-blind admissions process before becoming eligible for this program.

In 2006, with the help of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, UNC-Chapel Hill launched the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP) to enable more community college students to transfer to and graduate 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 statewide. In 2018-2019, 58 advisers are serving 78 high schools with 60,000 students, including 15,000 graduating seniors. Last fall, 262 alumni of corps partner high schools enrolled as first-year students at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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 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, which brings the total number of community colleges served in our partnership to 13, was made possible by a grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.