Grants and Scholarships

Need-Based Grants and Scholarships

This is "free money" you don't pay back.

  • Need-based grants and need-based scholarships are basically the same thing – money available for students based on financial need to help pay for college.
  • North Carolina and the federal government are the best sources of these for North Carolinians, but need-based grants and scholarships are also available from colleges and other private groups.

How do you get them?

  • First, be sure you complete an application for admission prior to the college deadline
  • After January 1, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the “FAFSA”).
  • Need-based grants and scholarships are awarded based on your financial circumstances.
  • Your eligibility for State and federal need-based aid is determined when you complete and submit your FAFSA. It’s easy…
    • If you are a North Carolina resident, just list on your FAFSA the colleges and universities you are considering attending.
    • You are automatically considered for every State (and federal) need-based grant or scholarship as long as you list at least one eligible NC college or university that participates in these programs on your FAFSA.
    • Once you submit your FAFSA, no further action on your part is required.
    • Your NC college or university will contact you to let you know if you qualify for aid or if they need more information.

For more about State and federal need-based grants and scholarships:

Merit Based and Other Scholarships

Some other scholarships are based on “merit” – special talent, achievement or skill -- not on financial need.

  • These are generally available from colleges and universities, as well as foundations and other organizations.
  • Awards may be made based on things like academic achievement, dramatic ability, athletic talent, leadership or other outstanding achievements or capabilities.

Scholarships based on other things are also available. Different criteria may be considered, such as:

  • where you live
  • your future career plans
  • a disability
  • military service (you or a family member)
  • other factors

Unlike need-based grants and scholarships that only require completing the FAFSA to be considered, merit-based and scholarships based on other factors may require separate applications.

How do you get merit-based or other scholarships?

  • Contact the college or university you are considering to see if you are eligible to apply for their merit scholarships.
  • Check with your high school counselor to learn about possible scholarships from foundations or other organizations in your community.
  • Sign into the SEAA Student Portal and apply to programs administered by the NC State Education Assistance Authority.
  • Use the Internet to search for scholarships as noted below.

Grant and Scholarship Search