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Nearly half of the students admitted to UNC qualify for and receive financial aid.

In the 2021-22 school year, 62 percent of the students who applied for financial aid at the University received need-based financial assistance.

It can be challenging for new students to find information about financial aid on their own, but Erica Corini, the associate director for communications and outreach at the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, said there are financial aid resources available for students to understand the aid they receive.

“The most important thing for us is our office is really dedicated to affordability and helping students — so not being afraid or scared by us, we're here to help students,” she said.

Corini said she recommended using the financial aid budgeting calculator on the office’s website to understand how aid will be applied for students' individual needs.

The calculator allows students to customize their meal plans, housing choices and the scholarships and loans they received to better understand the cost of attending UNC.

Isaac Hwang, a junior majoring in biology and chemistry, is on the Student Advisory Council for the Office of Scholarship and Student Aid and was one of the first students to test the budget calculator.

The council works directly with the financial aid office to implement student perspectives and process student perspectives on decisions made in the office.

Hwang also received a work-study program — where he does research on campus — as part of his financial aid package. Work-study programs allow students to earn money for college expenses by working part-time on campus or at selected community service agencies.

“I found it a good resource to get involved in research very quickly,” he said.

Starting July 7, students who receive a work-study program as part of their aid for school can apply for work-study listings on JobX based on their interests, career plans and skills.

Students can also seek out scholarships and funding from individual organizations — considered departmental funding — for scholarships specific to their major or identity.

One of the most difficult parts of applying for aid for Hwang was navigating the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA. He recommended students complete an application for aid as early as possible to ensure that it can be done within the deadline — which was June 30 this year.

Corini said that meeting deadlines for aid is an important aspect of the financial aid process. Students can find a detailed list of the financial aid deadlines on the Office for Scholarships and Student Aid website or on the "Financial Aid To Do” list in ConnectCarolina.

Some of the financial aid resources offered through the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid are geared toward specific student demographics, such as the Carolina Covenant Scholars package.

Students who receive aid from Carolina Covenant come from families with income at or below 200 percent of the poverty guideline and who meet additional economic criteria. These students are helped financially and are also given the opportunity to connect with mentors.

Peter Said, a medical school student who was a Carolina Covenant Scholar as an undergraduate at UNC, is now a Covenant mentor.

He said that the program connected him to resources and mentors who supported him through his time as a UNC undergraduate.

“The best thing about UNC that I experienced is that I never had a question and felt it went unanswered,” he said.

Said, a first-generation student and immigrant, said that programs like the Carolina Covenant and the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, which provides students with the opportunity to transfer from community colleges and graduate from UNC, made him feel at home at UNC and pushed him to "excel and thrive."

By working as a mentor for students, Said said he wants to offer the help he received as a student.

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“The Carolina community as a whole is a family, and we're always here to help each other, so don't be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for anything,” he said.


@dailytarheel |

Eliza Benbow

Eliza Benbow is the 2023-24 lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer university editor. Eliza is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and creative writing, with a minor in Hispanic studies.