JAMESTOWN, N.C. — The initiative that granted recent high school graduates with two years of tuition-free community college is now extended to 2020 high school graduates. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Longleaf Commitment Grant covers two years of tuition and fees at any of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges

  • North Carolina high school graduates of 2020 and 2021 are eligible

  • Enrollment numbers for the 2020-21 academic year have dropped by 18%

The Longleaf Commitment Grant launched in May 2021 as Gov. Roy Cooper allotted $86.4 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund through federal COVID-19 funding. This funding will combat the immediate impacts of the pandemic on incoming college students.

The grant covers two years of tuition and fees at any of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges. 

Here are the eligibility requirements for the Longleaf Commitment Grant, according to NC Community Colleges:

  • Graduate from a North Carolina high school in 2021 or 2020
  • Be a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes
  • Be a first-time college student [Career & College Promise (CCP) and Early/Middle College High School students are eligible] 
  • Enroll in a curriculum program during the Spring 2022 academic year 
  • Enroll in at least six credit hours per semester 
  • Complete the FAFSA for 2021-2022 
  • Have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from $0 - $15,000 ("EFC" is based upon a student's FAFSA determination) 
  • Renew the FAFSA for the 2022-2023 academic years and meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements of the college

Students do not have to apply separately for the grant. They will be automatically considered once they complete the FAFSA form and complete the North Carolina residency determination.

The community college’s financial aid office should reach out with an official award letter. 

The Longleaf Commitment Grant helped Daniela Campbell continue her studies. Campbell was on a dual enrollment track in high school, where she earned credits at Guilford Technical Community College. When a family friend told her about an opportunity for tuition-free education, Campbell enrolled for the fall semester. 

“I don’t know many friends who are able to go to a four-year, or even get their associates for free, and to be able to have that opportunity to not only learn more about myself, but also just learn in general, it’s something I think everyone should take advantage of if they can,” Campbell says. 

Enrollment numbers at North Carolina’s community colleges have dropped in recent years. The 2020-21 academic year has seen an 18% drop in enrollment compared to the 2019-20 academic year. The North Carolina Community Colleges System hopes extending the opportunity for free education will help boost enrollment numbers statewide. 

For more information on the Longleaf Commitment Grant, click here