WINTERVILLE—A new program to spur North Carolina’s economic recovery from COVID-19 is giving the state’s 2021 high school graduates a chance to attend Pitt Community College tuition-free for the next two years.
Starting with the 2021 Fall Semester, the Longleaf Commitment Grant will provide as much as $2,800 a year for two years to full-time PCC students who meet guidelines set by state leaders. Part-time students approved for funding can receive partial awards.
North Carolina officials established the grant program to address a steep decline in the number of new students enrolling at the state’s 58 community colleges during the pandemic. Using $31.5 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, they created the initiative to ensure graduating high school seniors from low-income and middle-class families have a clear, affordable path to earn a college degree.
“Much of North Carolina’s economic recovery from COVID-19 depends on the success PCC and other community colleges have in preparing a skilled workforce for business and industry,” PCC President Lawrence L. Rouse said. “The Longleaf Commitment Grant will help encourage more North Carolina high school graduates to pursue postsecondary education, thus strengthening our ability to develop a pipeline of skilled professionals.”
PCC Financial Aid Director Lee Bray says the Longleaf Commitment Grant will provide much-needed financial assistance to Pitt students. She noted that in any given semester at the college, approximately 67 percent of students are receiving at least some form of financial assistance to cover the cost of their educational expenses.
Bray says students who enroll at PCC this fall will automatically be considered for Longleaf funding if they submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet program guidelines. She said that includes eligible students who applied to the college and completed FAFSAs prior to the Longleaf Commitment Grant’s announcement.
“Other than a PCC admissions application and the FAFSA, there’s no additional form for students to complete to determine eligibility,” Bray said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for this year’s high school graduates to pursue an associate degree at PCC, tuition-free for the next two years.”
The full list of eligibility requirements includes:
- 2021 North Carolina high school graduate.
- North Carolina resident for tuition purposes.
- First-time college student (Career & College Promise and Early/Middle College High School students are eligible).
- Enroll in a North Carolina community college for the 2021 Fall Semester and maintain at least six credit hours per semester while making satisfactory academic progress.
- Complete a FAFSA for the 2021-22 academic year and renew it for the 2022-23 academic year.
- Have an Expected Family Contribution below $15,000, which roughly equates to $100,000 Adjusted Gross Income for a family with two children.
Bray encouraged students interested in pursuing Longleaf funding to apply to PCC and complete a FAFSA as soon as possible to avoid potential processing delays. She added that more details on the grant are available on the PCC website.