How to Pay for UNC Chapel Hill: Aid and Student Loan Options

 September 17, 2020
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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (or “UNC Chapel Hill”) is a prestigious school that has gained a reputation for its rigorous academic program. If you’re planning to become a Tar Heel, you’ll need to be prepared for a large tuition bill. Fortunately, a UNC loan can help.

Although the cost of attendance is high, you might not have to foot the bill in its entirety. To help you, we’ll explain UNC loans and how to pay for your education at UNC Chapel Hill.

How to pay for UNC Chapel Hill

There are a number of financial aid options available to you, including scholarships, grants, payment plans and student loans.

1. Scholarships
2. Grants
3. Payment plan
4. Tuition Guarantee Program
5. Federal student loans
6. Private student loans

1. Scholarships

As an incoming student, you might be eligible for one of UNC Chapel Hill’s scholarships. The school offers awards based on financial need, academic merit, athletic performance and community or military service.

  • Johnston Scholars Program Scholarship: A series of need-based scholarships, the James M. Johnston Awards are given to incoming students who also demonstrate strength in various areas and financial need.
  • Old Well and Founders Scholarship: Students from North Carolina with outstanding grades can receive $3,000 or more through the Old Well and Founders Scholarship.
  • College Fellows Scholarship: High-achieving students from North Carolina can receive up to $2,500.
  • Community Service Scholarships: Students with a record of community service can receive a renewable award of $5,000.
  • Athletic scholarships: Student-athletes might be eligible for scholarships based on athletic ability. However, students must apply through UNC Chapel Hill’s athletics department, rather than the financial aid office.
  • Military scholarships: Military service-related scholarships are available to Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC participants.

2. Grants

If you’re struggling with how to pay for UNC Chapel Hill, the school offers several grants to undergraduate students with a demonstrated financial need.

There’s no separate process to applying for a grant. The school will automatically consider you for a grant when reviewing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Profile.

3. Payment plan

Rather than coming up with the entire tuition bill at once, UNC Chapel Hill offers several payment plans. The school offers three plans:

  • Five-month plan: To pay for one semester, you can spread your payments out over the course of five months for Fall or Spring.
  • Ten-month plan: To cover both the fall and spring semesters, you can pay your bill over 10 months.
  • Twelve-month plan: You can spread your payments even further to reduce how much you owe each month. This plan allows you to pay your bill over the course of 12 months.

4. Tuition Guarantee Program

As of 2016, North Carolina residents who enroll in an undergraduate program within the University of North Carolina school system are eligible for a guaranteed tuition rate.

That means that the tuition you pay for your first semester as a freshman will be the same price of your last semester as a senior. The Tuition Guarantee Program protects you from price hikes while in school.

5. Federal student loans

After grants and scholarships, your next source for financing your education should be federal student loans. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates, more generous repayment terms and other benefits than other forms of aid.

With a federal student loan, you might qualify for an alternative repayment plan, such as an extended payment plan after you graduate, where you can get a lower minimum payment. You might also qualify for loan forgiveness in certain circumstances, such as if you choose to work in public service.

To ensure you get access to all of the federal financial aid you deserve, make sure you complete the FAFSA.

6. Private student loans

Although federal loans are usually the most cost-effective option when it comes to student loans, it’s possible to exhaust your federal options. Most federal loans have a cap on how much you can borrow — so if your education costs exceed that maximum, you’ll have to find another way to pay for school.

Private student loans can be an essential tool that fills the gap and allows you to complete your education. When shopping around for a private student loan, compare offers from multiple lenders to ensure you get your best deal. Also be aware that private loans don’t usually come with the same protections as federal loans, so be sure to use those first in most cases.

Some final tips on paying for college

Many options are available to help pay for UNC Chapel Hill, such as UNC loans, grants and scholarships, to make it more affordable. When you’re figuring out how to pay for UNC Chapel Hill, make sure you explore all of your opportunities to minimize your costs.

Not sure where to find scholarships? This guide for high school seniors can help you navigate through the process.

Christina Majaski contributed to this report.

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