North Carolina

College Admissions Requirements

There are three College Entrance Requirements to attend a four-year public university in North Carolina.

All North Carolina community colleges are open access, meaning that anyone with a HS diploma or GED can enroll.

HS Curriculum

15 core courses including:

4 Math credits4 English credits3 Science credits2 Social Studies credits2 credits in the same foreign language

GPA

2.5 cumulative weighted GPA (as calculated by your high school)

SAT or ACT Score

Minimum of 17 on the ACT (with writing) or an 880 on the new SAT

Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements for consideration by any UNC system university. See the Creating a College List section below for the individual requirements and averages for each individual university.

Applying to College

Students in NC have four options to apply to college: the Common or Coalition Applications, CFNC, or applications on individual college websites.

Recommended Deadlines

Oct 15- Apply Early Action to UNC Chapel Hill & NC State University

Nov 1 - Early Applications to UNC Charlotte, Appalachian State, UNC Wilmington

Nov 1- Apply Early Decision to Duke or Elon University

Nov 15- Apply Early Action to Western Carolina, NC Central

Nov 15- Apply Early Decision to Davidson College, Wake Forest

Dec 1- Early Applications to UNC Greensboro

Dec 15- Merit Scholarship Deadline for ECU

Jan 15- Priority deadline for NC Central

Feb 1- Apply to UNC Asheville, Western Carolina, NC School of the Arts, & NC A&T

May 1- Apply to remaining NC Public & Private Universities

NC Public University Application Info - FALL 2021

Remember, it's important to apply by the early deadlines even to your safety universities in order to qualify for maximum scholarships & financial aid!

Fee Waivers

Students who qualify for a SAT/ACT fee waiver can also qualify for a college application fee waiver. These fee waivers are available to download & print (and be signed by your counselor) at your SAT account or from NACAC. For Common or Coalition application schools no printed fee waiver is necessary. Simply check that you qualify for a fee waiver and your counselor will have to confirm it. However for applications via CFNC or on individual college websites, you will have to either mail, email, or fax the signed fee waiver forms to the university. Check with the university on its fee waiver process.

Creating A College List

1. Read this article on creating a college list for general advice, then dive in to the the data on North Carolina colleges & universities.

2. To search for colleges outside of North Carolina, see the Search for Colleges section.

Find where colleges are located and plan your college visit!

Copy NC Selectivity Chart-All

See where you can get accepted.

NC College Search

Data on Majors & More

Filter to search both public & private colleges by selectivity, location, size diversity, & major!

UNC Degree Search

CFNC Explore Programs & Majors

Applying for Financial Aid & Scholarships

1. Complete the FAFSA

FAFSA website: www.fafsa.gov

See our FAFSA Guide

2. Complete the CSS Profile

These 5 NC universities use the CSS Profile: Davidson, Duke, Elon, UNC Chapel Hill, & Wake Forest.

CSS Profile Website: https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org

The RDS is a central system for the state of North Carolina to award in-state residency for college students.

All students must complete RDS to get in-state tuition at a pubic university or community college in North Carolina.

RDS Website: https://ncresidency.cfnc.org/residencyInfo/home

North Carolina Cost

State Aid Programs

For State Aid Programs applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), listing at least one qualifying North Carolina institution. Consideration for the grant is automatic once the FAFSA is filed. No deadline has been established; however, applicants should meet financial aid application deadlines established by their institutions (Mar 2 for UNC universities).

Bottom line is that students don't need to do anything extra to qualify for NC state financial aid other than submit the FAFSA by the deadline (Mar 2 for UNC schools)!

Grants and Scholarships

For Scholarships, students must complete separate applications.


NC Promise Program (see below)

North Carolina Need Based Scholarships

  • For NC students attending school in NC.

  • Amount: $2,000 to $7,100

North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarships

  • For NC students attending School in NC.

  • Amount: $315 to $3,130

University of North Carolina Need-Based Grant

  • For NC students at NC public universities.

  • Award amounts vary from $500 to $4,200 in 2018-19. Application Procedure: Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), listing at least one qualifying private North Carolina institution. Consideration for the grant is automatic once the FAFSA is filed. No deadline has been established; however, applicants should meet financial aid application deadlines established by their institutions.

UNC Campus Scholarship Program

  • Value varies. Each campus determines eligibility and recipients based on approved criteria established by the institution.

2017 Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program

A six-week immersive and experiential summer program designed to provide students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of key issues facing public higher education. The program is open to rising juniors and seniors attending one of the sixteen constituent institutions of higher education in the University of North Carolina.

Cheatham-White Merit Scholarship

Full-ride scholarship for students with a minimum 4.0 GPA & 1280 SAT/28 ACT at NC A&T or NC Central University.

CFNC Scholarship Search

Search for over 50 scholarships through CFNC.

Winston Salem Foundation Scholarships (deadline Apr 1)

One application qualifies students for multiple scholarships through the WS Foundation.

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina

Multiple scholarships for students in the Western Counties of North Carolina.

North Carolina Promise

Through NC Promise, tuition drops to $500 per semester ($1000 per year) at three UNC system institutions – Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina University – beginning in Fall 2018. Students still pay fees & room & board, but in-state students still qualify for their typical state & federal financial aid, making these schools a great deal for low-income, NC students.

Tuition drops to $5000 per year for out-of-state students, making these universities a great option for DACA and undocumented students as well!

Merit & Institutional Scholarships at North Carolina's Top Universities

UNC Chapel Hill

Carolina Covenant

No separate application! Eligible students whose family income falls at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (about $48,600 for a family of four) can graduate from Carolina without having to borrow a penny – 100% of their demonstrated need is met through grants and federal work study.

Carolina Scholarships (full list)

Morehead Cain

Must be nominated by your NC high school. Apply to the Scholarship & to UNC.

NC State

NC State scholarships (full list)

    • Pack Assist- one application portal for all NCSU scholarships

Park Scholarship

Must be nominated by your NC high school. Apply to the scholarship & to NCSU.

Goodnight Scholarship

For students with family incomes under $110K, planning to study STEM. Must apply early action to NCSU!

Other UNC System Universiteis

UNC Chalotte

Niner Scholarship Portal- apply for hundreds of scholarships with one app!

Levine Scholarship

20 students chosen every year! Must be nominated by your high school!

NCCU & NCA&T

Cheatham-White Merit Scholarship

Full-ride scholarship for students with a minimum 4.0 GPA & 1280 SAT/28 ACT at NC A&T or NC Central University.

Davidson College

Davidson provides scholarships to only 3% of incoming students, but with generous financial aid, it is affordable to most students who are accepted.

Davidson Scholarships (full list)

Duke University

Duke provides scholarships to only 3% of incoming students, but with generous financial aid, it is affordable to most students who are accepted.

Duke Merit Scholarships (full list)

Wake Forest

Wake Forest provides scholarships to only 3% of incoming students, but with generous financial aid, it is affordable to most students who are accepted.

Wake Forest Merit Scholarships (full list)

Important note on scholarships: For low-income students, most of your financial aid will come from need-based financial aid from the university. North Carolina has one of the most affordable public university systems in the country, and any public university will likely be affordable for nearly all low-income students. Don't let cost stop you from applying!

For private universities, it's important to apply to colleges that will be affordable for you without any merit scholarships. However, always look on the website of each university for merit scholarship opportunities. Most, you will be automatically considered for, but some require extra applications!

Information for Undocumented/DACA Students

  • North Carolina does not provide undocumented or DACA students with in-state tuition or any state financial aid. Undoc/DACA students can attend any university, but they will have to pay out of state tuition without financial aid.

  • However, DACA students who get sponsored by a NC business can pay in-state tuition at North Carolina community colleges.

    • Usually this is how it works: students explain the situation and find an employer who is willing to sponsor them. Then they find out the exact amount owed for the upcoming semester and write a check to their employer for the in-state tuition amount. The employer then gives the student a check for the same in-state tuition amount and the student turns in the check and usually some kind of form to the budget office of the community college. This process is repeated every semester.

  • Starting Fall 2018, DACA & undocumented students are eligible for the reduced out-of-state tuition at 3 NC Public Universities through the College Promise Program.

    • NC Promise: Out-of-state tuition will be $5,000 per year at Western Carolina, UNC Pembroke, and Elizabeth City State University.

  • See the DACA/Undocumented page for scholarship opportunities including the Golden Door Scholarship and the Dream.US Opportunity Scholarship.

Other Resources & Links for Counselors