Upon evaluating my recent first-year experience at UNC, I recall the scorching hot day of move-in, the first day Old Well sip, never-ending trips to Lenoir Dining Hall and hilarious dorm adventures. I think about the string of social events that make college life so memorable and exciting. I don’t often think about days on end of instant Ramen meals, checking my bank account to see if I can afford to splurge on a dinner trip to Franklin and general unease about if the price of college is worth the immense debt it attaches to my name.
That’s because for me, none of those things took place. Carolina Covenant assured that my education at UNC would be one free of economic anxiety. From covering tuition, textbooks, dorm costs and even providing a laptop grant, the Carolina Covenant is a college student’s dream.
The Carolina Covenant is UNC’s promise to students from low-income households to graduate debt-free. If a student fits below a certain adjusted gross income for their family size, the college dream that I described could be theirs. For a family of two, the maximum adjusted gross income is $32,040.
During my first-year, I had the opportunity to go to Carolina Covenant events, find out more about Covenant study abroad options and meet with both a faculty and peer mentor. I felt certain I made the right choice in choosing Carolina. Not only was I in an environment of intellectual stimulation and passionate students but I also was attending a university that directly showed me they understood my background and truly believed that socioeconomic background should not be a deterrent in pursuing a higher education.
With all this said, there are still students at UNC who are eating Ramen multiple nights in a row and not for its taste. UNC’s college student dream is unattainable for students who fall just above their adjusted gross income lines. For students just above this near poverty line, UNC’s claims of affordability and exceptional Carolina Covenant program just do not ring true.