Stanly Community College offers FAFSA assistance

The following is from Stanly Community College:

If someone offered you the chance to attend college with free or greatly reduced tuition, would you take it?

Many local high school graduates and adult learners aiming to enroll in community colleges, state colleges and universities may consider the Next NC Scholarship. This scholarship allows one to attend local institutions such as Stanly Community College (SCC) for free.

However, time is running out for the upcoming academic year, and SCC is offering assistance to help complete the steps needed to secure the scholarship.

The Next NC Scholarship is a financial aid program to help North Carolinians living in households making $80,000 or less pursue higher education by fully covering tuition and fees at any community college or more than half, if not all, of tuition and fees to attend any public university in the state.

The best part?

The money does not have to be repaid.

According to SCC Financial Aid Director Petra Fields, students who want to attend SCC and qualify will receive at least $3,000, more than the cost of full-time tuition at SCC. Those attending a public university receive a minimum of $5,000 — more than half, if not all, of tuition and fees at any of the state’s 16 public universities.

Students with the greatest need for financial aid could qualify for more funding to help pay for college.

SCC is working to raise awareness of the Next NC Scholarship in part because of issues and complications with the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) form that occurred in 2023. According to the U.S. Education Department, as of March 29, 40% fewer high school students had completed the FAFSA.

According to statistics from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA), the number of Stanly County public high school students completing the FAFSA is down significantly from last year, approximately 24%, versus the statewide completion rate, down 18% from last year. In addition, students within the Stanly County Schools district who have completed a FAFSA have earned an estimated $361,000 in Pell grants. With 52.4% of the county’s students classified as economically disadvantaged, the Next NC scholarship is a strong possibility for many residents.
College-access advocates are concerned that this decrease in completed forms could lead to a similar drop in enrollment, especially among low-income and first-generation students who rely heavily on federal aid.

Where Can Scholarship Money Be Used?

Students can use the money awarded through the Next NC Scholarship to cover expenses like tuition, additional fees, books, food and housing. This scholarship can help many who want to enter high-demand fields in the state, such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, business, education or engineering.

“The scholarship combines the federal Pell Grant with the state-funded financial aid program to offer a simplified and predictable scholarship award that’s easier to understand and makes education more affordable for state students,” says Fields. “It allows students to pursue the degree they need to build careers and helps them gain jobs in high-wage workforce areas our state needs.”

How To Apply

Students enrolled full-time in a North Carolina community college or public university and have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are automatically considered for the scholarship.

To be eligible for the Next NC Scholarship, students must:

• Be an NC resident eligible for in-state tuition.

• Have graduated high school or hold a high school equivalency.

• Be enrolled in an undergraduate program for at least six credit hours at a state community college or university and meet that school’s satisfactory academic standards.

• Be from a household with an annual Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $80,000 or less.

• Complete the FAFSA by Aug. 15 for SCC or a state community college.

Save The Date to Help Cover the Cost of College Tuition

Stanly Community College will host three FAFSA Finish Line events, to help individuals complete their FAFSA and learn more about the NEXT NC Scholarship:

• 5-7 p.m. June 5 at GloryBeans Coffee House, 134 W. Main St., Albemarle.

• 5-7 p.m. June 11 at Greater Grounds Coffee, 103 Locust Ave., Locust.

• 5-7 p.m. June 12 at Reservoir Coffee, 110 N. Main St., Norwood.

SCC representatives encourage attendees to come with the information needed to complete the FAFSA, which includes:

• Student’s Social Security Number.

• Parent’s Social Security Number.

• Student’s Driver License Number if they have one.

• Student’s Alien Registration Number if they are not a US citizen

• Federal Tax Information or Tax Returns for the student and the parents if the student is still a dependent. Eligible students and parents who filed a U.S. tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can now have their tax information transferred directly into the FAFSA form with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT).

• Untaxed Income Information such as interest income, noneducation veteran benefits, child support received for the student and the parents if the student is still a dependent.

• Financial information such as cash, bank account balances, investment accounts, businesses and farms for the student and the parents if the student is still a dependent.

Registration is optional, and the events are open to anyone who needs assistance with the FAFSA, no matter the college or university they wish to attend.

For more information about the events, contact Christian Payne at 704-991-0124 or cpayne6806@stanly.edu.