North Carolina students can take advantage of waived college application fees in October

For Immediate Release

Kathy Hastings
[email protected]

Annual Countdown to College campaign helps N.C. families and students plan, apply and understand how to pay for education opportunities beyond high school

RALEIGH, NC (Sept. 28, 2023) – Students throughout North Carolina can submit college applications to many N.C. colleges and universities for free during College Application Week, October 16-20 as part of the College Foundation of North Carolina’s (CFNC) Countdown to College campaign, which kicks off Oct. 1.

This statewide opportunity eliminates the cost of college applications as a barrier to enrollment for N.C. high school seniors preparing to enter an increasingly competitive job market. Research from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University shows that over 95% of all jobs created nationally since 2010 have gone to workers with at least some college education, emphasizing the value degree and non-degree certificate programs deliver for students.

Countdown to College, part of the American College Application Campaign, comprises free resources and programming in the college-going process, including waived college application fees at many N.C. colleges and universities during College Application Week, Oct. 16-20. Additional resources help students and families determine N.C. residency for in-state tuition and explore available financial aid options.

The annual campaign is run in partnership with individual high schools, colleges and universities across all 100 N.C. counties to help students take necessary steps to plan and prepare for the education and career opportunities they want to pursue.

"This campaign empowers tens of thousands of students each year in communities across the state to make progress toward the education and career goals they want to achieve," said Andrea Poole, Executive Director of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. "Countdown to College has been part of our work for decades, and we are happy to help students pursue opportunities aligned with their goals.”

How Students and Families can Participate

Students and families across the state can take advantage of the free resources available through by:

  • Creating a CFNC Account to save college searches, submit applications and more.
  • Completing the process to determine N.C. Residency through the Residency Determination Service (RDS) to qualify for in-state tuition and state financial aid.
  • Getting information on how to obtain an FSA ID, which is a requirement for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), set to open in December.
  • Researching colleges, universities and non-degree certificate programs to understand opportunities available through all N.C. colleges and universities.
  • Preparing for and submitting college applications by reviewing college essay tips, application best practices and other resources.

Starting Oct. 1, students and families can also see the full list of colleges and universities waiving application fees during College Application Week.

Evaluating Financial Aid Options

Students and families seeking financial assistance to pay for college and to explore the opportunities that will be available will need to complete the FAFSA. This year, the FAFSA will open later in December, says the U.S. Department of Education. Updates affecting N.C. students and families will be available on, and through the federal government at


About CFNC

College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) is a free service of the State of North Carolina provided by a collaboration of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, Pathways (the University of North Carolina System, the N.C. Community College System, the N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities, and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction) and College Foundation, Inc. CFNC promotes access to N.C. higher education and assists students with education planning, career planning and applying and paying for college.

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