Getting into a college or university can be one of the most exciting moments in one’s life, but figuring out how to pay for it can be thoroughly anxiety-inducing.
And with College Decision Day looming, many families are weighing financial aid and scholarship options when trying to pick the school that’s right for them.
The FAFSA can go a long way toward opening doors for various forms of assistance. And for Charlotte-area students, schools and other organizations in the community also offer opportunities for getting help paying for school.
Here’s what to know about getting financial aid and scholarships to help pay for college in the Charlotte area:
How does the FAFSA work?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is an application for various types of financial assistance to pay for higher education.
The federal government will use your application to determine what sort of aid you’re eligible for, such as federal grants, work-study, and public student loans. Many states, colleges, and private aid providers will also use your FAFSA to help determine your eligibility for financial aid.
To fill out the application, you’ll need your Social Security number, tax records, and bank statements. If you’re a “dependent student,” you’ll likely need the same information from your parents or guardian.
You can fill out the application at fafsa.gov, and many high schools will offer assistance to students in completing the form.
The federal deadline to get your FAFSA in for the 2022–23 academic year is June 30, 2023, and June 30, 2024, for the 2023-24 academic year. North Carolina does not have a hard deadline for the FAFSA but recommends students submit it as early as possible because awards are only “made until funds are depleted.”
Specific schools may also have their deadlines for the FAFSA.
Financial aid and scholarships at Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte
Johnson & Wales University uses the FAFSA to help determine financial assistance eligibility. The school’s FAFSA code is 003404, and you should apply as early as possible “to maximize your financial offer.”
The university also offers a variety of scholarships and grants, which can be found at jwu.edu/admissions/paying-for-college/scholarships-and-grants.html.
Financial aid and scholarships at Johnson C. Smith University
In addition to the federal aid students can get access to through the FAFSA, Johnson C. Smith also offers multiple forms of direct aid, including tuition remission for “individuals who are immediate family members of employees” and a family discount for “students who are currently enrolled and who have a sibling, parent or spouse currently enrolled.”
Scholarships are also available based on academic achievement and participation in athletics, choir, or band.
For more information or assistance, call 704-378-1035 or email FinancialAid@jcsu.edu.
Financial aid and scholarships at Queens University of Charlotte
To access the forms needed to complete your FAFSA and other financial aid opportunities at Queens University, visit queens.edu/admissions-aid/tuition-scholarship-aid/financial-aid-forms.html.
Merit-based scholarships are also available through the school for incoming freshman and transfer students. For information, go to queens.edu/admissions-aid/tuition-scholarship-aid/freshman-transfer-scholarships.
To get individual assistance from a financial services counselor, email email@example.com or call 704-337-2225.
Financial aid and scholarships at UNC Charlotte
UNC Charlotte’s financial aid office recommends completing the FAFSA to access various forms of assistance, including federal grants, state grants, student and parent loans, and work-study employment. The school’s FAFSA code is 002975.
January 1 is UNC Charlotte’s “early award decision deadline,” If you meet that deadline, you’ll get your aid offer from the school “by the end of March.” March 1 is the “regular award decision deadline,” which will get you “your aid offer by April 15.”
“If you have missed this deadline, we encourage you to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible, even if you haven’t received your acceptance letter,” the school advises.
In addition to financial aid, UNC Charlotte also awards “more than 1,600 scholarships each year to incoming freshman, transfer, undergraduate, and graduate students with outstanding academic accomplishments and demonstrated financial need.”
More scholarships for Charlotte-area students
In addition to schools’ financial aid offices, some organizations also offer scholarships to students heading to college from the Charlotte area or assistance with finding scholarship opportunities, including:
The College Foundation of North Carolina, a program that offers a searchable database of scholarships available across the state. You can narrow your search based on your county, where you’re going to school, and more.
The Foundation for the Carolinas, which “manages more than 150 scholarship funds” available to students in North and South Carolina. You can narrow your search based on your major and location or search by keyword.
North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarships are available to state residents to help pay tuition when enrolled at UNC campuses and North Carolina Community College campuses “for at least six credit hours per semester.” Eligibility is determined by the FAFSA.