The financial aid officers at North Carolina’s independent colleges and universities work hard to make sure that attending our colleges is affordable for you and your family. To accomplish this task, they typically will use a combination of government and private funding options. To begin, please complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).



Grants are funds awarded to students and do not have to be repaid. Eligibility for grant funds can vary. For instance, students may need to demonstrate financial need, complete a minimal amount of credit hours each academic term, or pursue a specific program of study to qualify for a certain type of grant. In addition, each individual college or university also has financial resources to provide through institutional aid. Be sure to talk with your financial aid office or the financial aid office of the college you are interested in attending to be considered for institutional aid and other types of grants, including those listed below.

Federal Pell Grants
Pell Grants form the foundation of federal student financial aid for undergraduates. Unlike a loan, Pell Grants do not have to be repaid. The amount a student receives depends on his or her level of need, status as a full-time or part-time student, and the amount of time he or she intends to be enrolled in college. Awards range from $740 to $7,395.

Learn more about Pell Grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Student Aid website.

North Carolina Need-Based Scholarships
North Carolina residents who apply to NCICU colleges and universities are also automatically considered for state assistance through the North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship (NCNBS). Created in 2011 by the North Carolina General Assembly, this is a need-based program for NC residents who attend private institutions of higher education in the state.
Eligibility requirements include:

  • Be a North Carolina resident as well as a North Carolina resident student for tuition purposes, as defined by North Carolina Residency Manual
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate student in at least 6 credit hours at an “eligible postsecondary institution” which includes all NCICU campuses.
  • Demonstrate a certain level of financial need, based on the Student Aid Index (SAI) from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Meet requirements for the Federal Pell Grant (except the SAI range used for Federal Pell Grant awards)

FSEOG: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
FSEOGs are awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need—those with the lowest Expected Family Contribution (EFC) numbers. Like Pell Grants, FSEOGs do not have to be repaid, and awards range from $100 to $4,400 a year depending on a number of factors, including the amount of other aid you’re receiving. Not every institution participates in the FSEOG program, and funds are limited, so it’s important to apply early for this program.

Learn more about FSEOGs from the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Student Aid website.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
The maximum award amount is given for any Pell Grant eligible student whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept.11, 2001. Students must be under 24 years old or enrolled at least part-time in college at the time of the parent/guardian’s death.
Students who are not eligible for a Pell Grant, but whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, may be eligible for this grant. To be eligible, you must be under 24 years old or enrolled in college, at least part-time, at the time of your parent/guardian’s death. The amount of the grant will be equal to the maximum Pell Grant for the award year, although the amount will not exceed the cost of attendance for that award year.
Learn more about this grant on the Federal Student Aid website.


Scholarships are monetary awards that you are not expected to repay. Like grants, usually these have strict guidelines for eligibility and often a rigorous selection process. Nonetheless, most students and families find that the process is definitely worthwhile. In this section, we’ve included summaries of the different types available.

We have also provided examples of specific NCICU scholarships. Financial aid offices at each of our colleges and universities automatically select eligible students for these scholarships. Other scholarships, such as those offered through outside institutions or your college or university, might require an application. Contact your financial aid office for more information. You can also search available grants and scholarships at CFNC.org.

Discipline-Specific Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded to students who plan to pursue a specific career or field of study, often in areas that are in high demand, such as nursing, education, science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Common examples include the following:

  • North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) Criminal Justice Scholarship for criminal justice students attending a North Carolina independent college or university.
  • The Student Teacher Assistance for Retention (STAR) scholarship provides financial support to college seniors who are enrolled in an educator preparation program.

College-Specific Scholarships
These scholarships are sponsored by your college or alumni of your college. You should check with the financial aid office of your chosen college for information regarding any college-specific scholarships for which you might qualify.

Need-Based Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded based on the financial need demonstrated by students or their families.

Other Scholarships
Each college or university has a number of endowed scholarships available to students. Please see your financial aid office about the scholarships available at your institution.

• NC REACH is a scholarship program available to students who have either aged out of North Carolina public foster care or whose adoption from North Carolina public foster care was finalized on or after their twelfth birthday.

• UPS Foundation Scholarships provide support to students primarily from underserved and disadvantaged populations and communities.

Scholarships Available Through NCICU


Unlike grants or scholarships, student loans are monetary awards that students and/or their families are expected to repay. Loans are legal obligations, so before you take out a student loan, you should consider carefully the amount that you will be able to repay as well as the various lending options.
Student loans come in several forms. Here are a few sources to help you on your way:

Loan Programs is a publication of College Foundation of North Carolina to guide students and their families through the lending process in North Carolina.
The Federal Student Aid website offers detailed information about federal loans and other types of aid.


Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS) are loans for students pursuing degrees in nursing, education, allied health, or medicine. These loans are forgiven if you work in an approved position in your field in North Carolina for each year you received the loan.


Federal work-study awards give students the opportunity to gain part-time work experience in their field at an hourly rate equal to or higher than federal minimum wage, depending on the type of work and the skills required. To be considered for this type of funding, you must indicate that you’re interested in work-study on your FAFSA.

The total award depends not only on your financial need, but also on the amount that has been awarded to your college by the United States Department of Education. After funds are awarded to the college or university, it’s up to that institution to administer the funds. The key is to complete and send in your FAFSA early. Click here to get started.

Grants and Scholarships