Attending college in The U.S. always comes with a significant price tag. Most NC students who graduate with a degree also leave school with thousands of dollars in student debt. While many students view this as unavoidable, there are scholarships and grants that are available to students that do not have to be paid back. In addition to this, there are many programs which exist to forgive student loan debt in exchange for a commitment of several years’ work in a specified location, industry or service. Almost all of the grants, scholarships and waivers will be based on information gathered from the government’s FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) form. Completion of this is the first step to receiving educational grants and loans in North Carolina. The grants, loans, and scholarships listed below are a good first step toward making sure there is not only enough money to attend college, but can offer students a way to graduate without exorbitant student debt.
Grants Available to Students in North Carolina
Educational grants do not require repayment, which makes them highly attractive to students planning to attend college. The U.S. government offers federally-funded grants, often referred to as the Pell Grant. However, there are many privately-funded and state-funded grants available to NC students. In fact, many of the state’s top universities are willing to recognize talent and academic achievement with grants.
Grants in NC are offered as degree specific and student specific. Some of the grants that are available as student-specific grants include the North Carolina Student Incentive Grant and the NC Community College Grant. The NC Legislative Tuition Grant is issued to qualifying students who are planning to attend a nonprofit, independent college. Likewise, the University of North Carolina system (which includes seventeen different campuses) offers need-based grants, but many other individual universities have similar types of grants.
The Golden Leaf Program is available for high school seniors attending a university in NC, and it is also issued to students who want to transfer from a NC community college to a traditional four-year college. Almost as good as receiving a grant is the admission into the work-study program. If qualified, a student is offered part-time work, often in his or her field of study. The work-study provides some additional funding, as well as credible work experience for future resumes.
Scholarships Available to Students in North Carolina
Scholarships abound in North Carolina and are issued to students for a number of reasons. Some scholarships are offered to students who plan to go into a certain field of study, while other scholarships are offered because of a student’s involvement with certain organizations. For example, students who plan to go into the educational fields can apply for the Mary Morrow-Edna Richards Scholarships, or the Department of Education Scholarship.
Some scholarships, such as the Annie S. Alexander Memorial Scholarship, is only available for students who are residents of certain counties in NC. To find scholarships, the best strategy is to visit the financial aid offices at respective colleges who can offer a list of scholarships specific to their campus. The NC Educational Lottery Scholarship is a statewide scholarship that is offered to eligible NC residents to attend college. Most of the scholarships offered will retrieve data provided on the FAFSA form.
Loans Available to Students in North Carolina
Federal student loans are offered as subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans. They do have to be repaid once the student leaves school. Subsidized loans indicate that the interest payments will be made on the student’s behalf while the student is still in school. Unsubsidized loans that are issued begin to accumulate interest, which adds to the overall amount of the loan.
Federal loans are referred to as the Stafford Loan and the Perkins Loan. The loans are based on need and must be reapplied for each year. Many universities in North Carolina offer deferred payment plans, enabling students to make payments for the cost of tuition over time. Students can often receive loans from private sources, such as banks, but interest rates for those are often higher than the federally-issued student loans.
Loan Forgiveness Programs in NC
Many professions in North Carolina want to retain trained and talented individuals. For that reason, many programs exist to waive student debt in exchange for a commitment to work in high-need areas or professions. Some examples of those professions in need include teachers, nurses and medical professionals.
The Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS) is one of the largest North Carolina loan forgiveness programs. The program is for students who have a degree in a critical employment shortage profession. The FELS program maintains a list of those professions.
The North Carolina State Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals is a large loan forgiveness program for those students who are licensed to practice in North Carolina in the mental health field.
Additionally, Lawyers who have recently graduated and who will agree to be a public interest attorney can receive a forgivable loan to repay law school debt.