North Carolina is known for its scenic views, great outdoor recreational activities and for being home to some of the top-notch colleges in the country. For students who want to attend college in the Tar Heel State, you’ll be happy to know multiple scholarships and grants are up for grabs for in-state colleges thanks in part to the North Carolina Education Lottery and the state of North Carolina.

The NC Education Lottery provides over $33 million in funding to college scholarships and grants, but it also funds a variety of other educational ventures in North Carolina.

Some of the best scholarships and grants student can apply for in the state of North Carolina include the UNC Need-Based Grant, the North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship, the North Carolina Community College Grant and the North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship.

UNC Need-Based Grant

The UNC Need-Based Grant is one of the top need-based grants and/or scholarships that benefit from North Carolina Education Lottery funding. Over 55,000 North Carolina students received a UNC Need-Based Grant in 2020 to help them attend a state university.

To be eligible, a North Carolina student must be enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester at one of the 16 University of North Carolina institutions. A student must also complete and file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for the grant as well.

Funds are given to students on a first-come, first-served basis. A student can receive up to $4,200 in funding as well.

North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship

The North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship (ELS) is a need-based scholarship and was created in 2005 by the North Carolina General Assembly to provide financial assistance to North Carolina students who demonstrate a need for financial assistance and who are attending in-state colleges and universities. The funding for ELS is also handed on out on first-come, first-served basis.

The eligibility requirements for the ELS are to:

  • Complete and file your FAFSA,
  • Be a North Carolina resident,
  • Be enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester,
  • Meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements of the student’s institution, and
  • Be admitted, enrolled and classified as an undergraduate student in a degree, certificate or diploma program at an eligible North Carolina institution.
    • These institutions include University of North Carolina campuses and North Carolina community colleges.

The financial need eligibility requirements are also similar to the federal Pell Grant, except students who are not eligible for the Pell Grant and who have an expected family contribution of $5,711 or less will be eligible for the ELS.

Students who are deemed eligible for the ELS can receive up to $3,588 to put towards their tuition. In 2020 alone, 22,267 North Carolina students received funding from the ELS program.

North Carolina Community College Grant

The North Carolina Community College Grant is also a need-based grant for North Carolina residents who are enrolled at an eligible North Carolina community college.

To be deemed as eligible for this grant, a student must:

  • Be a North Carolina resident,
  • Be enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester in an eligible North Carolina community college,
  • Meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements at the institution,
  • Complete and file FAFSA, and
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding.

The financial need eligibility criteria are similar to the federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria except students who are not eligible for the Pell Grant and who have an expected family contribution of $8,500 or less will be eligible for a North Carolina Community College Grant.

A student can receive up to $2,400 from this grant and it’s awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship

The North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship is a need-based scholarship for North Carolina residents attending private, North Carolina postsecondary institutions. Additionally, it was created in 2011 by the North Carolina General Assembly.

To be eligible for this scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a North Carolina resident and a North Carolina resident student,
  • Complete and file FAFSA,
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate student in at least nine credit hours at a qualifying private North Carolina college,
  • Demonstrate a certain level of financial need based on calculated expected family contribution from FAFSA, and
  • Meet all additional eligibility requirements for the federal Pell Grant.

If a student receives the NC Need-Based Scholarship, they can receive up to $7,340 towards their schooling; this scholarship is also given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Additional Info on the North Carolina Education Lottery

In 2020 alone, the North Carolina Education Lottery raised over $729 million in funding for education programs in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The funds are then divided up between six different programs that go to all educational age ranges. One of the programs is the college scholarships and grants program, but the other five programs are also important to the Tar Heel State.

Pre-K Program

Part of the funding from the Education Lottery goes to the North Carolina Pre-K Program. This program helped nearly 14,000 North Carolina students four-years-old and younger receive a free academic pre-school experience in 2020.

School Construction Program

In 2020, North Carolina school districts received over $100 million in funding from the Education Lottery to help build and repair schools in the state.

Non-Instructional Support Program

North Carolina public and charter schools received $385 million in lottery funds to help support the smooth operations of these crucial institutions in the state.

Need-Based School Construction Program

The Need-Based School Construction program is a relatively new program as it was created in 2017. It’s funded only by funds from the Education Lottery and is designed to help small, rural counties with critical building needs afford to build new schools. $73 million were given to six counties who needed funding the most to help build and repair schools within their county lines.

LEA Transportation Program

In 2020, the Education Lottery provided the LEA Transportation Program with over $21 million to help cover the costs of school-provided transportation such as bus drivers’ salaries, fuel for the vehicles and more.

Major Colleges in North Carolina

There are over 130 public, private and for-profit colleges, universities and community colleges in the state of North Carolina. Some of the major schools in the Tar Heel State include:

  • Appalachian State University in Boone
  • Duke University in Durham
  • East Carolina University in Greenville
  • Elon University in Elon
  • North Carolina Central University in Durham
  • North Carolina State University in Raleigh
  • North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Charlotte
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Greensboro
  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke in Pembroke
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Wilmington
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem
  • Western Carolina University in Cullowhee
  • Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem

The North Carolina Education Lottery isn’t the sole provider of funds to North Carolina’s overall education budget, but it does play a very integral role in helping the state run critical educational programs every year.