CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Students across the Carolinas are getting ready to go to college in just a few months and WCNC Charlotte has learned many of them could have received help paying for school, but didn’t.
WCNC Defender Michelle Boudin discovered the state of North Carolina left $90 million on the table just last year. Money that could have gone to students.
Student loan debt is such a big issue in this country, so WCNC wanted to know what was going on and it turns out, many students simply don’t know they can apply for grants and scholarships.
Tyler Jackson had a hand in everything in high school. He played football, ran track was on student government and in the school musical, but he struggled to figure out how to parlay that success into helping pay for college.
“I didn’t really understand the whole scholarship process for awhile,” Jackson said.
But Jackson knew he needed financial help if he was going to get a degree.
“I had to make it happen, had to get a scholarship, had to get a scholarship,” he said.
He finally got some help and got a full ride to CPCC.
A new statewide non-profit, NC Future, is trying to make sure all students get help navigating the system.
Executive Director Cecilia Holden explained, “We’re trying to help them find money and telling them that education after high school is an affordable opportunity by making them aware that there are federal resources, also state grants and scholarships.”
One of the first places to start is filling out whats called a FAFSA application, which is a free application for student aid.
“The state of North Carolina is leaving $90 million in pell grants on the table that otherwise could go to these students,” Holden said.
So for the next few weeks, My future NC is hosting what they're calling FAFSA frenzy, hoping to get the word out about money students may have access to.
Jackson said he’s thrilled he doesn’t have any student debt.
"It feels amazing, im in a very blessed position right now,” Jackson said.
If you’re interested in getting help with scholarships and grants for college, here are some helpful links: