System-wide Scholarships

The UNC System offers some of the most affordable opportunities in higher education anywhere in the nation. Still, a large percentage of students and their families seek grants and financial aid opportunities to help cover the total cost of attendance, which includes tuition, housing, textbook, and program fees.

Broadly speaking, this assistance comes in two forms: gift subsidies and financial aid. Students do not need to pay back gift subsidies, whether they are scholarships or grants. Typically, organizations award scholarships based on merit (e.g., academic or athletic talent) and grants based on financial need. By contrast, financial aid generally refers to loans that must be paid back.

Most of the scholarships awarded through the UNC System are issued from the institutional level. However, the UNC System does offer a few scholarship opportunities to help students and employees pay for their education.

The Cheatham-White Merit Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship. This unique opportunity is available to incoming freshmen at North Carolina A & T State University and North Carolina Central University. The scholarship fully funds four years of higher education. This includes costs associated with tuition, student fees, housing, meals, textbooks, a laptop, supplies, travel, and personal expenses.

The Janet B. Royster Memorial Staff Scholarship is for UNC System employees who continue to work while they simultaneously pursue higher education.

Institutional Scholarship Opportunities

By and large, students will find most of their scholarship opportunities housed at the specific institute where they intend to study. The links below are direct portals to each institution’s scholarship information page.

Prospective students can also find scholarship opportunities funded by organizations outside the UNC System. High school counseling offices can provide valuable information regarding local and statewide scholarships. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor hosts a national scholarship search tool. The College Foundation of North Carolina also hosts a page dedicated to helping students locate statewide scholarship opportunities.


In addition to the scholarships identified above, the UNC System also funds two experiential learning opportunities.

The Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program is a six-week immersive summer program for rising UNC System juniors and seniors. The program gives ambitious students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of key issues facing public higher education. In addition to researching and developing final research projects, the scholars are placed in a state government agency. Through this work, scholars gain exposure to the fields of public service and higher education.

Recent graduates of the UNC System can explore the Presidential Scholars Program. Presidential Scholars serve a one-year appointment at the UNC System Office, where they regularly interact with senior leadership and members of the Board of Governors. In this capacity, scholars help to research, write, and implement policy.