Frequently Asked Questions

My CFNC FAQs

  1. Question 1?

    Here is the answer to Question 1.

  2. Question 2?

    Here is the answer to Question 2.

  3. Question 3?

    Here is the answer to Question 3.

Plan FAQs

You may have questions about planning your college career. The following is a list of frequently asked questions to aid you during the college planning process.

Explore Postsecondary Schools FAQs

  1. What are the main differences between 2-year and 4-year institutions?

    Four-year Institutions: Most 4-year institutions have more rigorous admissions requirements than a 2-year institution. Four-year colleges set a minimum standard for both the GPA and the standardized test scores that must be achieved by the student to gain admission. Four-year institutions generally have pre-requisites (courses you are required to take in advance of admissions).

    Two-year Institutions: Admission is generally easier to 2-year institutions, generally there are no set standard minimum admission requirements, except high school graduation or GED diploma. Some colleges may require proof of citizenship, residency, and proof of English proficiency. Technical programs are offered that prepare you for immediate entry into the job market. In addition, many of these colleges offer general education programs that are equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor's degree program. If you are unsure about the major you wish to study, this is a good place to start.

  2. How do I choose a college?

    When selecting the college or university you are going to attend, there are a number of things to consider. If you know your major, you need to make sure the major is offered. You also need to consider what you want from the college you attend, the size of the campus, the number of students, clubs, fraternities, sororities, and location are all things that you may want to consider. Some of the questions you should consider prior to selecting a college or university are:

    • What are your academic and professional ambitions?
    • If you know what your ambitions are and what your major will be, does the campus offer courses in that area?
    • Do you prefer attending a small campus versus a larger one?
    • Do you prefer a campus in a big city, or one that is in a rural community?
    • If you are into a particular sport or sports, does the campus offer it?

    You can use the Matching Assistant and the Comparative View to help you with your selection. You should also visit the campus if possible.

  3. What is student life?

    Every campus, whether a commuter or a community school, has an active student life. How soon and how much student life you have will depend, in large part, on your efforts and willingness to seek it out. On-campus and off-campus activities, lectures, clubs, fraternities, sororities, athletics, recreational activities, performing arts, visual arts, cultural and historical community sites are all components of student life. There are wide ranges of on-campus and off-campus activities to appeal to almost every student.

  4. Do I have to live on campus to have an active student life?

    You can participate in all campus events and organizations whether you are living on campus or living off campus. You determine the extent of your activities and involvement in student life.

  5. If I am going to live on-campus, what should I bring with me?

    • Bring clothes and shoes appropriate to the weather conditions of your campus' location. If you are moving far from home but know you are visiting "home" for the holidays, bring only what you need for the fall and winter seasons.
    • Don't forget any prescription medicines that your take regularly.
    • If you wear contacts or glasses, bring a spare copy of your eye lens prescription and a spare of either your contacts and/or glasses.
    • Find out the size of linens you will need before you leave and then buy or bring two sets including a comforter, an extra blanket, and a pillow.
    • Contact your residence hall to find out what they provide and this will help you decide what else to bring.
    • Bringing school and desk supplies to get you through your first week of school is recommended.
    • Personal items and toiletries.
    • A shower caddy with drainage holes, flip-flops for the shower and two extra-large towels, two hand towels and four washcloths.
    • A warm robe and slippers.
    • A portable dictionary and thesaurus.
    • A book of stamps and pre-paid phone card.
    • Emergency contact information.

  6. I am what is known as a "non-traditional student", meaning I am older. Is there a place for me in campus student life?

    The short answer is "yes." Both on- and off-campus activities are open, available, and appropriate to any age depending on interest and taste. Participation in recreational activities, lectures, the arts - both visual and performing, and specialized clubs all help to create your student life.

Apply FAQs

You may have questions about applying to the college of your choice. The following is a list of frequently asked questions to aid you during the application process.

Applying to College FAQs

All Students

  1. How do I apply?

    The Apply to College module enables you to apply online to the North Carolina campus or campuses of your choice. You may also contact the colleges directly to request an application. In addition, the applications for many of the state's colleges are available through their websites.

  2. When do I apply?

    Application deadlines differ from school to school. Some colleges set particular deadlines for regular and for early decisions, while others follow a "rolling" admission format, admitting qualified students at any time they apply. You should visit the website or call or write the admissions office at each college you are considering to determine the ideal times to apply, as well as to learn of any application deadlines.

  3. What if I miss the initial filing period?

    You should contact the admissions office of the institution to determine if there is a possibility of late acceptance, or if there is a later deadline for which you may apply.

  4. How much does it cost to apply?

    Application fees vary from campus to campus. The application fee charge is printed on each application. Occasionally a student will obtain an old form indicating an incorrect application fee. In such instances, the college will typically return the application and request a resubmission with the appropriate fee. If you have a form and are uncertain which year it is for, you might want to check the college's website to determine the latest application fee.

  5. What if I can't afford the application fee?

    In cases of financial hardship, many campuses allow a limited number of application fee waivers. Since fee waiver policies and availability vary from college to college, you should check with the admissions office of the campus or campuses you are considering to determine fee waiver availability and procedures. Also, your school counselor should have a list of colleges that accept fee waivers, and he or she can advise you of the procedures to follow for waiver consideration.

  6. In addition to the application, what other documents will I need to provide?

    Typically, a high school transcript is required (and most colleges will require a final transcript when you graduate, showing your date of graduation). Other documentation, such as SAT or ACT scores, essays and letters of recommendation may also be required. Check the application to determine what additional information is needed to complete an application.

  7. When will the campus contact me after I've completed my application?

    How soon you will hear about your application varies from campus to campus. In all cases, within a few weeks of filing your application, the campus will notify you that your application has been received and is being processed. If the campus was unable to process your application, you will be notified as soon as possible with details of other information that is needed for an admission decision to be made.

  8. When will I know if I am admitted?

    Each campus has its own time line for notifying students of admission. Some campuses begin notifying applicants of an admission decision soon after the receipt of an application. Other campuses hold their decisions and notify students at the same time. It is not uncommon for there to be a several month period before admission decisions are sent.

  9. How can I improve my chances for admission?

    The key to improving your chances for admission is under your control. Working hard, earning good grades, and taking the right classes will improve your chances for admission. Taking either an SAT or ACT test on a timely basis for those campuses requiring standardized test scores is also helpful. Remember that you must meet the minimum admission requirements for the public universities, and that some public universities and certain majors may require the completion of courses beyond those minimums. The course requirements for the private colleges will vary from campus to campus - you should check with the admissions offices of the private colleges you are considering to determine which courses are required.

  10. Do I have to notify a campus that I will be attending?

    Some campuses require you to inform them of your plans to attend and in some cases confirm your plans with an enrollment confirmation deposit. Other campuses do not require an "intent to register". Be sure to check carefully your admission letter to see if an intent is required, with or without a fee, and be sure to observe the deadline dates specified. If the campus of your choice does not require an intent to register, it is still important to observe any conditions it may specify in its admissions packet.

  11. How do I get more information from the campus?

    Campuses are eager to provide you with more information about their campus. You can use this site to link to the campus website to obtain more information. You can also use My CFNC Mail or your own email account to contact the campuses you are interested in for more information. Campuses also appreciate letters asking for more information. Best of all, if you can, be sure to visit the campuses you are interested in for a campus tour.

  12. Can I earn college credit while still attending high school?

    Yes, most campuses will allow you credit towards your degree. You can earn college credit through the completion of an AP examination or by earning certain scores on International Baccalaureate examinations. You can also take college courses while in high school and, if they do not apply to your high school degree, they may be counted towards your college degree. The amount of credit that can be earned, the minimum scores required to earn credit, and the policies and procedures for earning credit vary widely from college to college. You should contact the admissions offices at the colleges to which you are applying, talk with your counselor, or call the Pathways of North Carolina phone line to learn more about your options for college credit for work you complete while still in high school.

  13. What are the basic freshman admission requirements?

    For the UNC system campuses, for the class of 1990 and beyond, the following courses will be required for admission, in addition to an institution's own specific requirements:

    • In English, four course units emphasizing grammar, composition, and literature;
    • In mathematics, three course units including algebra I, algebra II, and geometry, or a higher level mathematics course for which algebra II is a prerequisite;
    • In science, three course units including at least one unit in a life or biological science (for example, biology), at least one unit in a physical science (for example, physical science, chemistry, physics), and at least one laboratory course; and
    • In social studies, two course units including one unit in U.S. history, but an applicant who does not have the unit in U.S. history may be admitted on the condition that at least three semester hours in that subject will be passed by the end of the sophomore year.
    • In addition, it is recommended that prospective students complete at least two course units in one foreign language, and take one foreign language course unit and one mathematics course unit in the twelfth grade.

    Beginning the fall of 2004 students will be required to earn two units of a language other than English. Beginning the fall semester of 2006 students will be required to earn a fourth unit in mathematics (NC School of Arts will be excluded from the fourth unit of mathematics requirement).

    "Course units" as defined in these requirements may include those high school level courses taken and passed by an applicant after graduating from high school, as well as those taken while enrolled as a high school student. For some transfer students and students who graduated from high school prior to 1990, special considerations have been made.

    The community colleges typically require a high school diploma for the technical programs. Other requirements may apply for students considering college transfer programs; you should contact the community college admissions office (or a counselor, or call the number) to determine the requirements.

    Each private college sets its own admission standards. You should contact the admissions office of the private college of your choice.

  14. How can I find out about financial aid?

    Visit the Paying tab for extensive information on financial aid. Try the Financial Aid Search, our search engine designed specifically for North Carolinians, and check out our information about various scholarships, grants, and loan programs. Once you learn about all the options for financial aid, we think you'll agree that college is affordable!

International Students

  1. How do international students apply for admission to a campus in North Carolina?

    Since each campus may have different admission requirements, international students must contact the campus to which they wish to apply for application procedures. These procedures typically include submitting an international student application form or a standard application indicating international student status (depending on the college), an application fee, proof of financial support, proof of English proficiency (e.g., TOEFL exam scores), official transcripts and diplomas/certificates sent directly from institutions the student attended to the North Carolina college campus in sealed envelopes (accompanied by exact literal English translations, when needed), and possibly additional application forms for the department to which the student is applying to, letters of recommendation, portfolios, auditions, and possibly other standardized tests, but it is important to contact the admissions office directly to determine the exact documentation requirements.

  2. When should international students turn in applications for admission and other required documents?

    International applicants should check with each campus for application deadlines. Applicants should apply at the beginning of the application cycle to allow ample time for processing.

  3. When can an international applicant expect to know his/her admission decision?

    An international applicant may know his/her admission decision usually within a few weeks after all the required documents have been received at the appropriate office on a North Carolina campus. The biggest cause for delay in processing an application is missing documentation; so be certain you check with the college to determine exactly what items are required; then be sure to request them and provide them in a timely manner. It is important to have official documents mailed directly to the appropriate campus office or significant delays may result.

  4. How much should an international student expect to pay to attend college in North Carolina for one year?

    The costs of attendance varies significantly from campus to campus. International students (non-U.S. citizens; non-permanent residents, that is students who do not possess a "Green Card") will generally be considered out state students at the public institutions, and will generally be assessed out of state tuition charges. In addition, many colleges will require a statement of financial support or documentation that a specified sum of money is on deposit at a U.S. banking institution. An international student should check with the campus he/she plans to attend for more specific information on costs.

  5. Are international students eligible for financial loans or scholarships?

    International students are not eligible for financial loans. Scholarships may or may not be available at the campuses in North Carolina. Interested students should contact their major departments and the admissions and financial aid officers for information on the availability of scholarships and application deadlines.

Transfer Students

  1. When can I transfer?

    Different schools have different policies in this regard. Some require a minimum number of completed transfer hours; others do not. In some instances, it may be necessary to complete certain coursework due to coursework that was not completed during high school. Admissions officers at the colleges can advise you in this regard.

  2. How can I determine if my credits will transfer?

    If you are enrolled at a community college or a private two-year college in North Carolina, you should review the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA), which guarantees that certain specified courses will transfer to any state university to which you are accepted, or to any of the 14 private four-year colleges (those colleges are Barber-Scotia, Barton, Belmont-Abbey, Bennett, Brevard, Campbell, Catawba, Chowan, Johnson C. Smith, Livingstone, Mars Hill, Mt. Olive, Pfeiffer, Queens, St. Andrews, Wingate) which have agreed to accept students through the provisions and under the conditions of the CAA. This agreement can be viewed at www.ga.unc.edu/student_info/caa/index.html.

  3. What courses should I take before I transfer?

    If you plan to transfer from a two-year college in North Carolina to a four-year college, it is generally best to take courses that lead to a college transfer degree. Within the college transfer programs, there are about two dozen pre-major articulation agreements which are designed to parallel the courses taken by students in similar majors during their first two years at a four-year college.

    If you are transferring from one four-year college to another, or from a four-year college to a two-year college, you should contact the admissions office at the receiving institution to determine which courses you should complete prior to transfer.

    Merely meeting minimum standards does not guarantee admission to any college, and you should check with the schools you are considering to determine your admissibility.

    Students who are considering transfer to a UNC system campus who did not meet the MAR requirements in high school can complete a college transfer (A.A. or A.S.) degree at a community college, or can complete certain other course requirements at a two-year or private four-year college to gain admissibility. For details, you should contact the UNC system school you are considering.

Pay FAQs

Financial Aid FAQs

This is not only a list of the most frequently asked questions that we've heard about financial aid, but also a financial aid primer. We suggest that you read the questions in the order they are presented, but skip around if you prefer.

  1. What is student financial aid?

    Financial aid is money from federal, state, and private sources used to pay college costs. There are two general types of aid: gift aid and self-help aid.

    Gift aid: The two types of gift aid are grants and scholarships. Generally grants and scholarships are the same thing - aid given to a student for which the student does not have to work or have an obligation to repay.

    Self-help aid: There are also two kinds of self-help aid - loans and employment:

    • Loans - money used to pay current expenses with an obligation for repayment at some future time, usually with interest
    • Employment - part time campus or off-campus job

    There are multiple sources of financial aid awards. Some examples are:

    • State programs
    • Federal programs
    • College and University programs
    • Local, regional, and national private programs (foundations, clubs, organizations)

  2. What is student financial aid based on?

    There are different qualifications for various financial aid programs: "merit", "need", and other criteria.

    • Merit based: Financial aid based on special talents, achievements, or skills of a student. Examples of merit-based awards are academic, drama, music, and athletic scholarships.
    • Need-based: Financial aid based on the difference between the total cost of attending a specific college program and a family's ability to pay that cost as calculated using standard formulas.
    • Other based: Financial aid based on neither merit nor need. Examples include grants based on state residence, jobs, campus work, parent loans, some student loans.

  3. What are college costs?

    College costs vary widely. Most of the difference is in tuition and fees, which are lower at public institutions because the state subsidizes in-state residents. Other costs are much the same at public or private institutions. Costs that are generally considered are:

    • Tuition
    • Required fees
    • Room
    • Meals
    • Books and Supplies
    • Personal expenses
    • Transportation

    North Carolina offers students a variety of excellent college choices, both public and private. Don't let the costs scare your off; the financial aid can offset the costs for many students and families, as the rest of this outline will make clear. For information on total costs of North Carolina colleges and universities, Explore Postsecondary Schools.

  4. Who pays for college costs?

    Paying for college is a shared responsibility among:

    • The family
    • The state
    • The specific college or university
    • The federal government
    • Private sources

    The amount your family has to pay varies depending on the cost of the college you attend and other factors.

  5. What about need-based grants, loans, and employment?

    Most available financial aid is need-based. Need-based aid is seldom all gift aid; often it is a combination called a "package" of gift, loan, and work; sometimes it is offered in the form of loans and/or work only. Your family is responsible for costs to the extent of its ability to pay college costs. The purpose of need-based aid is to provide access to college, and choice of a college. Every year there is a new determination of eligibility for need-based aid, annual applications are required).

  6. How do I apply for student financial aid?

    File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

    • FAFSA Application - www.fafsa.ed.gov. As the name states, the form is free; you should not have to pay anyone to complete the form. If you need help, check out FAFSA Day.
    • Required annually for all types of need-based state and federal aid (file as soon as possible after January 1 of the senior year in high school and each year thereafter).
    • Applications processed centrally by a federal processor.
    • Application results sent to institutions listed by student on FAFSA and to the state agency.
    • Student Aid Report sent to student to confirm data.

    Other forms may also be required by the college or university of your choice (check with each college). Among these forms are:

    • Their own institutional applications for need-based aid
    • College Scholarship Service PROFILE (a national form used by some colleges and universities for awarding their own need-based student financial aid funds)
    • Specific college merit scholarship applications (often with fall deadlines, so apply early)
    • Scholarship applications from sources outside the college or university (foundations, clubs, etc.) can be important also. Find out about these "outside scholarships" by using resources including:
      • High School Counselor's Office
      • Fraternal, civic, and church groups in your area
      • Free Internet Scholarship Searches. You should never have to pay for scholarships or scholarship searches. Note that some search engines will sell/share your personal information with other "partners".

    View a Timeline for the Financial Aid Process!

  7. Are there some tips for applying for student financial aid?

    • Be sure to complete all required forms by deadlines.
    • Complete all questions accurately; estimate if necessary to meet early deadlines.
    • Don't wait until you are admitted to file the FAFSA.
    • Keep a photocopy of all documents for your records.

  8. How is eligibility for need-based aid determined?

    Standard formulas compute a Parent's Contribution and a Student's Contribution:

         

    To be considered for FEDERAL and some STATE financial aid, you must meet the following criteria:

    • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
    • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
    • Have a valid Social Security number
    • Be enrolled at least ½ time in an eligible program and working toward a degree or certificate (may be eligible for only Federal Pell Grant if less and ½ time student)
    • Have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) Certificate, or pass a test approved by the U.S. Department of Education
    • Make satisfactory academic progress
    • Register with the Selective Service, if required (males only)

    To receive STATE student aid from North Carolina, you must:

    • Be a legal North Carolina resident for tuition purposes
    • Attend an eligible institution in North Carolina
    • Fill out applications specific to the state (while most state programs require only the FAFSA as the application, state scholarship-loans have their own separate applications). Use our financial aid search to find programs of interest to you.

    To receive institutional and other need-based aid, be sure to check the specific requirements of the institution or program.

  9. What are major sources of financial aid?

    There are many sources of aid - state programs, federal programs, colleges and university programs, local and other programs. Some are need-based, some are merit-based, and some are based on other factors. Major programs are listed below. Each program is listed in the scholarships, grants, or loans section of our site.

    Major state programs for North Carolinians:

    1. Grants/Scholarships
    2. Scholarship-Loans

    Major federal programs:

    1. Grants
    2. Jobs and Loans

    North Carolinians can view many more federal and state sources of aid available to them by using our Financial Aid Search. College-sponsored aid opportunities are plentiful, but these opportunities vary widely from college to college. To find out just what opportunities may be available for you, review college websites and catalogs (sometimes called bulletins) or contact the school's financial aid office. Many colleges and universities offer both need-based and merit-based financial aid, including:

    • Grants & Scholarships
    • Alternative parent and student loans
    • Student Employment

    Local and government organizations are another good source of scholarships. Your school counselor or public library will have information on local financial aid opportunities. Examples of groups that may offer this type of scholarship include:

    • Churches
    • Civic Groups
    • Parents' employers
    • Veterans' Administration (multiple links)
    • Vocational Rehabilitation Services
    • ROTC Scholarships
    • Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program

  10. What is a "financial aid package?"

    A Financial Aid Package represents the best efforts of the college or university financial aid office to meet a student's demonstrated need or to offer other suggestions for available aid. Some colleges are able to meet full demonstrated need, but some cannot.

    Colleges communicate aid options to the student by an "award notice" that lists programs of aid and amounts available. Financial aid packages generally include a combination of gift and self-help. The proportion of gift and self-help will vary by college or university and sometimes by other factors as well. The package may be adjusted if/when other resources are awarded to the student.

    View Sample Financial Aid Packages Here

  11. What if I have special circumstances or want more aid?

    Significant change in your family can lead to changes in financial aid. Let the college financial aid office know about changes such as:

    • Unemployment of a parent
    • Death in the family
    • Change in parents' marital status
    • Major non-discretionary expenses such as medical bills

    Be prepared to provide documentation of any change.

    Adjustments to aid awards - especially need-based awards - are not made based on "negotiations" but on changed circumstances and new information.

  12. How do I compare financial aid packages from different colleges?

    Ask yourself these questions in evaluating financial aid offers:

    • With the aid offered to me, can I afford to attend my first choice college or university? Remember, the goal of aid is to provide access and choice, not to lure you to a college you don't really want to attend.
    • Is there a commitment from the financial aid office to continue the aid after the first year of college? Under what terms and conditions? What are my responsibilities in securing continuation (application deadlines, grade point average, etc.)?
    • Is the amount of the loan and/or work reasonable? How many hours of weekly work does the award imply?
    • Can I afford the monthly payments on a loan once I have graduated? Use our Smart Borrower Calculator to learn more about how much is too much to borrow and the Stafford Loan Repayment Calculator to estimate your monthly payments.
    • Are there other options available to me at my first choice college or university? If the aid offer is not sufficient to enable you to attend your first choice, ask the aid office at that college or university if they can suggest other options for financing your education.

  13. Is that all there is?

    • Payment Plans - some colleges offer a payment plan to make paying your portion of the expenses easier. Contact your college or university to find out if they have such a plan.
    • Family Savings - North Carolina's National College Savings Program - It's important to save and plan ahead when possible.
    • Taxpayer Relief Act, and other Tax Savings.
    • Off-campus employment - be sure to keep the times and number of hours limited in a way that will not hinder academic work.
    • Cooperative education programs - alternate terms of college with terms of work to help pay for educational expenses and gain career experience.
    • Employer reimbursements - normally limited to full time employees who are taking a limited number of courses.
    • The Academic Common Market enables North Carolina residents to pursue certain graduate (not undergraduate) degree programs in other states at reduced tuition rates when the program is not offered through the University of North Carolina, and is an approved participating program. To learn more, visit the UNC Academic Common Market at: http://acm.northcarolina.edu/.
Financial Aid Videos
Get answers to your questions on how to pay for college. Short videos explain costs to expect, the financial aid process, different types of aid and more.
College is Important!
College is Affordable!
The Role of Financial Aid
Return to Paying for College

Where do you go from here? It depends. Here are some suggestions:

Use the tools on the to get detailed information on scholarships and grants, student and parent loans, saving for college expenses, and way to get tax reductions to pay for college. You also can directly access a variety of tools, calculators, and publications to help you find ways to pay for college.

What you need to know about paying for college is different at different ages. Find special information for the following groups:

See a list of major federal and state grants, scholarships, loans, and work study.

Glossary of Financial Aid Terms

Search for scholarships and other financial aid.

Go to the Explore Postsecondary Schools to learn costs and aid facts about 110 North Carolina colleges and universities.

Read Insider Information - articles containing advice from financial aid professionals.

Repayment FAQs

There are many repayment programs available and it is important to understand all of your options. The following is a list of frequently asked questions to help you choose the best repayment option for you.

  1. What should I do if I am having trouble making my monthly payments?

    If your payments are set up under the Standard Repayment Plan and you're in a situation where you anticipate continual problems making your monthly payments under this plan (for example, you've just started working in your chosen career), you may want to consider one of the three alternative repayment plans:

    • Graduated Repayment Plan - You start with a lower monthly payment at the beginning of your repayment period, then gradually increase it over the course of the repayment period.
    • Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan - You make a monthly payment based on a percentage of your monthly gross income.
    • Extended Repayment Plan - You extend payments for a lengthened repayment term of up to 25 years. (Available only to borrowers who received their first loan on or after October 7, 1998, and have more than $30,000 in outstanding principal and interest through the Federal Family Education Loan Program [FFELP]).
    • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR) - This repayment plan was developed to assist borrowers who are having difficulty making their payments because they have high student debt levels relative to their incomes. The program is available for Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans to graduate students, and Consolidation Loans with no underlying parent PLUS loans. Borrowers must exhibit a partial financial hardship (PFH) as defined by federal regulations to enroll in an IBR plan. PFH is based upon the borrower's income, poverty level for the borrower's state of residence, family size, and student loan indebtedness. Borrowers must recertify family size and income each year. This plan became available July1, 2009. For more information on IBR, click the IBR link.

      Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Calculator
      Download Income-Based Repayment (IBR) PDF form

    You can contact the CFI Repayment Center at (919) 821-4743 or toll free at (800) 722-2838 to discuss an alternative repayment plan.

    If you're having problems making your monthly payments because of a short-term situation (for example, loss of job), try the Repayment Wizard to see if you qualify for a deferment or forbearance. If you still have questions, please contact the CFI Repayment Call Center.

  2. What is deferment?

    A specific period of time during which you are approved to cease making payments of loan principal.

    Normally you may qualify for a deferment of your loan payments only after your repayment period begins. In other words, your grace period must have expired. However, you may request that the grace period be waived or shortened in order to be eligible for a deferment. The types of deferments for which you are eligible are specified by the terms of your loan(s). The criteria by which you may be granted a deferment is based on federal regulations.

    If your loan(s) is a subsidized Stafford loan, the federal government will pay the interest that accrues during the deferment period. If your loan(s) is unsubsidized, you are responsible for the interest that accrues during the deferment period.

  3. What is forbearance?

    A short-term, temporary suspension of your payments or a reduction of your payment amount. Forbearance is intended to help you if you're having financial difficulties and do not qualify for a deferment.

    If CFI agrees to grant forbearance, you are responsible for the interest that accrues on your loan(s) during the period of forbearance. Normally, CFI will ask you to pay the interest during the forbearance, but in some circumstances, CFI may allow you to capitalize the interest at the end of the forbearance period. Keep in mind that if you capitalize the interest, your principal balance increases and you will pay more interest in the long run.

  4. Which is the better choice - a deferment or forbearance?

    The choice depends on individual circumstances. but a deferment is usually the better choice because with subsidized Stafford loans, the federal government will pay the interest that accrues during the deferment period.

    One of the major differences between a deferment and forbearance that you should keep in mind is that a deferment is automatically granted (if you request a deferment and you qualify) whereas it is up to the discretion of CFI to grant forbearance.

  5. What types of deferments are available for my particular loans?

    To find out, read through the list of deferments to learn more about your eligibility. If you think you may be eligible for a certain deferment, you may want to use the Repayment Wizard. In fact, the Repayment Wizard will direct you to the deferment that will be most advantageous to you. Or you may want to contact the CFI Repayment Call Center at (919) 821-4743 or toll free at (800) 722-2838 to discuss all your options.

  6. What is the Repayment Wizard?

    A program that is designed to ask a series of questions for you to answer. Based on your answers, the Repayment Wizard determines your eligibility for a deferment or forbearance and directs you to the option that is most beneficial to you. Since you're applying online, you don't have to wait for CFI to mail a deferment or forbearance request and if no certification is required, the entire process can take place online.

  7. I tried to use the Repayment Wizard and it tells me I am ineligible to apply online and that I should contact CFI - why?

    If the Repayment Wizard has determined that you are ineligible to apply online, you should contact the CFI Repayment Call Center at (919) 821-4743 or toll free at (800) 722-2838 for assistance.

  8. Why do I need to get a deferment request certified?

    Because certification for certain deferments is mandated by the rules governing the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

  9. Do I have to pay while I'm waiting to get a deferment request certified?

    Yes, you must continue to make your payments unless you have applied for and been granted a forbearance to cover the payments that will come due while you're awaiting certification. You will need to do so in order to protect your credit. CFI will notify you when your request has been approved.

  10. What if my loan(s) is in deferment and my situation changes?

    Contact the CFI Repayment Call Center at (919) 821-4743 or toll free at (800) 722-2838 to re-evaluate your options.

  11. How do I renew a deferment or forbearance?

    The quickest way to renew is to use the Repayment Wizard. If you prefer, contact the CFI Repayment Call Center at (919) 821-4743 or toll free at (800) 722-2838 for assistance.

  12. What happens to the interest on my loan(s) during a deferment or forbearance?

    If your loan(s) is a subsidized Stafford loan, the federal government will pay the interest that accrues during the deferment period. If your loan(s) is unsubsidized, you are responsible for the interest that accrues during the deferment period.

    If CFI agrees to grant forbearance, you are responsible for the interest that accrues on your loan(s) during the period of forbearance. Normally, CFI will ask you to pay the interest during the forbearance, but in some circumstances, CFI may allow you to capitalize the interest at the end of the forbearance period. Keep in mind that if you capitalize the interest, your principal balance increases and you will pay more interest in the long run.

  13. How do I get a FAFSA e-PIN?

    You can apply for a FAFSA PIN while navigating the Repayment Wizard. You will be directed to a secure federal government website known as "U.S. Department of Education - The PIN Web Site." You may also access the website at http://pin.ed.gov.

  14. While using the Repayment Wizard, how do I print a copy of my deferment or forbearance request?

    When your session with the Repayment Wizard is complete, you will be automatically directed to the My CFNC Web page where you will have the option to either print your request or have CFI print and mail the request to you.

  15. What happens to my credit rating while my loan(s) is in a deferment or forbearance?

    CFI reports your loans to the credit bureau every month regardless of the status of your loan(s). Keep in mind that a loan that is past due is reported as past due regardless of a pending deferment or forbearance. Therefore, you should continue to make payments on your loan(s) until CFI notifies you that your request has been approved.

  16. I'm already past due. Can I still apply for a deferment or forbearance? What should I do?

    Yes, you can still apply for a deferment or forbearance unless you are in default.

    Of course, you should use the Repayment Wizard to quickly determine your eligibility for a deferment or forbearance. If for any reason you have trouble using the Repayment Wizard or if you are denied for a deferment and forbearance, you should contact the CFI Repayment Center at (919) 821-4743 or toll free at (800) 722-2838 to explore other options available to you.

  17. What is default?

    Default typically occurs when you (the borrower) consistently fail to make your installment payments for a specified period of time during the repayment period. But CFI may also declare your loan(s) to be in default if you fail to meet other terms of your promissory note or other written agreement(s) with CFI. If your loan(s) is declared to be in default, CFI will transfer your loan(s) to the guarantee agency.

  18. Why should I avoid being in default?

    Failure to repay your loan as promised - defaulting - can cause significant problems for you.

    First, your loans will be turned over to the guaranty agency, which will report your default to all national credit bureaus. Second, even if you default, collection efforts do not stop. Eventually, the guaranty agency or the U.S. Department of Education may also:

    • Sue you
    • Obtain a judgment for a lien against your current or future real property
    • Garnish your wages
    • Seize any NC Lottery winnings you may win
    • Notify your employer if you work for the state or federal government
    • Report to all national credit bureaus that you did not fulfill your loan obligation
    • Withhold your federal and state income tax refunds
    • Cause you to lose any professional license you may hold

    Avoiding default is very important. If you run into difficulty making your loan payments, immediately check with your lender on deferment, forbearance, consolidation, or graduated repayment options. Your lender can help.

    If your loans have already been defaulted, don't give up hope; you CAN get back on track.

    If you received your loans from CFI, contact the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA), which is the guarantor for North Carolina's Federal Family Education Loan Program. You may contact them toll free at 800-544-1644 to discuss your options to repay your defaulted student loans.

  19. What happens to my financial aid if I change schools?

    If you transfer to a different school, your financial aid package does not go with you. Each financial aid office uses the data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to calculate and determine an aid package for you at the specific school. Therefore, you must reapply for aid at each different school you attend.

    When you transfer schools, you also need to contact your lender to make sure that any pending disbursements for loans scheduled at your previous school are cancelled. You should contact the financial aid office at your previous school to make sure they are aware of your decision to transfer to another school. This way, the financial aid office can make any necessary adjustments on their end.

    Typically, both schools will contact your loan holders to update your enrollment status. However, if your lender is CFI, we encourage you to contact us if you transfer to another school in order that we may update our records.

  20. What if my school closes?

    If you have a loan at a school that closes while you are attending, you may be eligible to have your loan discharged. Please contact us toll free at (866) 866-2362 to discuss your options. However, if you do not qualify for loan discharge, you must pay back your loan.

  21. Are there any circumstances that would cancel or forgive my loan?

    Under certain circumstances, your loan may be canceled or forgiven - for example, if you become completely or permanently disabled or die. Your loan may also be canceled if your school closes or if the school falsely certified your eligibility for the loan. Some loans may be eligible for partial or complete cancellation based on certain service or employment, such as teacher loan forgiveness. Please contact us toll free at (866) 866-2362 to discuss your situation.

  22. Who do I contact if I have a question?

    Contact the CFI Repayment Call Center at (919) 821-4743 or toll free at (800) 722-2838.

Save FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the NC 529 Plan, North Carolina's National College Savings Program. If you don't find the answer to your question here, detailed information is available in the Program Description. The features of a qualified tuition program are complex and involve significant tax issues. The availability of tax benefits and the applicability of tax consequences may be contingent on other requirements. You should consult your own financial, tax or other advisor to learn about how the use of an Account in the NC 529 Plan may affect you.

  1. Does the Account Beneficiary have to select a college now?

    No. But because college costs vary widely depending upon the type of school, consider the type you want to save for - state, private, community, out-of-state, and so on. That way you can better plan your current investment strategy to meet college expenses later. Remember, you can use the money in your Account to pay expenses at virtually any college anywhere.

  2. Are there limits on the amount I can contribute?

    Yes. Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code requires the Program to establish safeguards to prevent Contributions for any single Beneficiary from exceeding the amount needed to fund his or her Qualified Higher Education Expenses. To prevent excess Contributions, the Program sets a Maximum Projected Expenses amount. Currently, this maximum amount is $410,000 per Beneficiary (which aggregates all Accounts held for the same Beneficiary by any Participant). The Maximum Projected Expenses amount is based on four years of undergraduate and three years of graduate or professional study at the most expensive institutions in North Carolina, although NC 529 savings may be used at any eligible institution, in or out of state. The Maximum Projected Expenses amount is reviewed annually to consider whether adjustment is needed. Additionally, federal gift tax laws may affect a portion of your Contribution. Currently, you can contribute up to $13,000 per year on behalf of a Beneficiary without incurring federal gift tax.

  3. Does North Carolina offer a tax deduction on contributions to its program?

    The earnings on your NC 529 Account are free from federal and, for North Carolina residents, NC income taxes, as long as you use your college savings for Qualified Higher Education Expenses, such as tuition, room and board, fees and required equipment. Legislation passed by the NC General Assembly in 2013 eliminated the state tax deduction on NC 529 Plan contributions for tax year 2014 and forward.

  4. Can others contribute to my Beneficiary's Account?

    Yes! Anyone can make a contribution to the Account. Such contributions make wonderful gifts for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. Once a contribution is made, it becomes part of the Participant's Account on behalf of the Account Beneficiary.

    Contribution/Gift Form

  5. What if my Beneficiary doesn't use all the money in the Account or decides not to go to college? Can I use the Account for the college expenses of someone else?

    Yes. You can change the Beneficiary of the Account at any time to another child or to someone else related to your original Beneficiary who plans to attend college.

  6. What are Qualified Higher Education Expenses?

    These are college expenses such as tuition, fees, room, and board. Qualified expenses even include such things as supplies and equipment that the institution requires the student to obtain as a condition of attendance. Earnings in your Account are tax free when used for such expenses at an eligible institution.

  7. What if I can't make Contributions on a regular basis?

    Occasional Contributions are welcome and there is no yearly account maintenance fee for Accounts. Accounts with assets too small to be administered economically; however, may be subject to termination if additional Contributions are not made. Contributing as much as you can on a regular basis will help you reach your savings goals.

  8. I am an adult and am thinking of attending college. Can I open an Account for myself?

    Yes! You may be both Participant and Beneficiary of an Account.

  9. What if my Beneficiary receives a scholarship and doesn't need all the money in the Account to pay for college?

    No problem! You won't lose access to your money. Simply request a Withdrawal from the Account in an amount equal to the scholarship or tuition waiver. The earnings portion of such withdrawals will be subject to federal and state income taxes.

  10. What if I want to change my investment mix?

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to change your current investment mix once each calendar year or if the Beneficiary of your savings Account changes. You may change how your future Contributions will be invested at any time.

  11. What if, due to unforeseen circumstances, I need to use the money in my Account for something other than higher education purposes?

    Unless money is withdrawn for payment of Qualified Higher Education Expenses for your Beneficiary or in the case of the Beneficiary's death, permanent disability or receipt of scholarship, the Withdrawal is considered a "Non-Qualified Withdrawal." A Participant making a Non-Qualified Withdrawal must pay federal and state income tax on the earnings portion of the Withdrawal plus a 10% penalty.

  12. Is it possible to transfer funds from a custodial account to the NC 529 Plan?

    Yes. If you are the custodian of an account established under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA), you may transfer cash proceeds from that account to the NC 529 Plan. However, the Beneficiary of the new NC 529 Account must be the same as the beneficiary of the custodial account, because under the rules of the original account, the beneficiary cannot be changed and will become the holder of the account at the age of majority. Your new savings Account also will be subject to the UGMA/UTMA custodial account terms and conditions and applicable state law.

  13. How does a Coverdell Education Savings Account (formerly an Education IRA) compare with the NC 529 Plan?

    There are many benefits to the NC 529 Plan. For example, Coverdell Education Savings contributions are limited to $2,000 per year until the child reaches age 18. With the NC 529 Plan, maximum allowable contributions are not limited by year but by total Account balance per Beneficiary - which means you can save as much as you want each year (subject to applicable gift tax) until total funds for the Beneficiary reach the maximum total allowable. With a Coverdell Education Savings Account, funds may be treated as the student's assets for purposes of eligibility for student financial assistance. There's no danger of that kind of transfer of "ownership" from Participant to Beneficiary with the NC 529 Plan. The Participant - the person who sets up the Account - always controls, or "owns" the funds.

  14. How will my college savings Account impact possible financial aid?

    A 529 Account held for the benefit of a dependent student is currently reported on the federal financial aid application (FAFSA) as a parental asset. This treatment of 529 assets is generally considered beneficial since parental assets are assessed at a much lower rate than the student's assets in determining the Expected Family Contribution; however, federal financial aid rules are subject to change. The student and parent should talk with the financial aid officer at the college the student will attend for more specifics since the amount the family is expected to contribute towards college costs can vary based on income, age of the older parent, the number of dependents, and other factors.