Next NC Scholarship

Get money for college that you don’t have to pay back.

That’s right. The Next NC Scholarship is a financial aid program that helps most North Carolinians from households making $80,000 or less pursue higher education by fully covering tuition and fees at any community college or more than half, if not all, of tuition and fees to attend any public university in the state. The best part? It’s money that doesn’t have to be repaid.

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The Next NC Scholarship combines the federal Pell Grant with the state-funded financial aid program to form a simplified and predictable scholarship award that’s easier to understand and makes education more affordable for most North Carolinians. It’s an opportunity to pursue the degree you need for the career you want – and the future you choose.


How much money are we talking about?

Thousands! Enough to potentially earn a tuition-free degree.

Students attending a community college will receive at least $3,000. That’s more than the cost of full-time tuition, which means qualifying North Carolinians can choose from any of the 58 community colleges across the state and have all of their tuition and fees 100% covered.

Those attending a public university in North Carolina will get a minimum of $5,000. That pays for more than half, if not all, of tuition and fees at any of the 16 public universities in the state.

Find out what funding you can expect using the Next NC Scholarship Calculator.

Students with the greatest need for financial aid could qualify for even more funding to help make paying for college more manageable.

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Who is eligible?

To receive the Next NC Scholarship, you must be:

  • A North Carolina resident who is eligible for in-state tuition
  • A high school graduate (high school equivalency completers are eligible)
  • From a household with an annual Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $80,000 or less
  • Enrolled in an eligible undergraduate curriculum program for the 2024-2025 academic year
  • Taking at least 6 credit hours per semester (part-time students will receive a partial award)
  • Meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards of the school you plan to attend
  • A student who has completed the 2024-2025 FAFSA, with a resulting Student Aid Index (SAI) at or below 7,500 (once complete, the financial aid office at the college/university you plan to attend will determine and confirm eligibility.)

*For a deeper look at the eligibility requirements, read the fine print.

What's AGI?

Adjusted gross income (AGI) is the taxable income a taxpayer earns. It’s determined by subtracting eligible deductions from a family’s gross income. You can find this number on your federal income tax return.

What's SAI?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is a number you get from filling out the FAFSA, based on the information you share. It’s an eligibility index that each school uses to determine how much financial aid you would get should you choose to attend.

What's 'proof of residency'?

You must be a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes to qualify for the Next NC Scholarship. Students need to complete the residency determination process using the NC Residency Determination Service (RDS).

What if I'm not eligible?

There are more scholarship opportunities out there. To find some of them, check out the CFNC scholarship portal.

What if I'm going to a private college or university instead?

That’s great, too. The NC Need-Based Scholarship for Private Colleges and Universities could provide the funding you’re looking for.

How do I apply?

Applying is simple. Just submit the FAFSA form. If you’re eligible, you’ll receive the Next NC Scholarship. There are no additional forms to fill out.

What's the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the best place to start to access funds for tuition and other school-related expenses. Once you gather all the information you need, filling out the application online should take about an hour. After submitting your FAFSA form, you’ll receive an award letter from the colleges you apply to telling you what you can get in the form of scholarships, grants, and work-study options and loans—including the Next NC Scholarship. Of course, whether you choose to accept the funding or not is totally up to you.

An overview of what you’ll need to have ready to fill out the FAFSA form:

  • FSA ID (You’ll create this to begin and sign electronically)
  • Social Security Number
  • Federal Income Tax Return
  • Records of Untaxed Income
  • Records of Your Assets
  • List of Schools You’re Interested In

Get more information about the FAFSA.

When should I fill it out?

The 2024-2025 FAFSA is now open. It’s a good idea to complete it as soon as possible, as some financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Next NC Scholarship priority filing date for UNC System schools and NC community colleges for the 2024-2025 academic year is August 15, 2024.

Colleges also use information from the FAFSA to determine if you qualify for federal, state and college-based scholarships or grants. Some of these institutions have earlier priority filing dates, so depending on where you’re planning on attending, you could be eligible for additional money from the school if you complete your FAFSA before their deadline:

View Priority Dates for Four Year Public Colleges
View Priority Dates for Community Colleges

Be sure to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Even if you don’t complete the FAFSA by the college’s priority date, other funding could still be available.

What can I use the money for—and where can I use it?

Money awarded through the Next NC Scholarship can be used to cover expenses at any of the 58 Community colleges or 16 UNC System universities across the state. That goes beyond tuition to include things like fees, books, food, and housing—making college more affordable than ever for many North Carolinians. The Next NC Scholarship can help you get into many high demand fields in our state, like healthcare, advanced manufacturing, business, education, or engineering – or pursue whatever degree sparks your interest and leverages your strengths – all while lessening the burden of student loans or even eliminating it completely.

Where does the funding come from?

Key players in the state have worked together to consolidate state financial aid for public colleges and universities and combine it with federal financial aid, making it easier for North Carolinians to know how much they can get so they can make the most informed decisions for their future. The State of North Carolina has committed nearly $180 million of financial aid for residents who qualify.

About us and our partners

College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) is a free service of the state of North Carolina that helps students plan, apply, and pay for college.

Next NC Scholarship State Partners:

The University of North Carolina System
NC Community Colleges System
North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority

Funded in part by:

North Carolina Education Lottery