Two of the state’s major financial aid programs, UNC Need-Based Grants and the N.C. Education Lottery Scholarship, will distribute $73 million in lottery dollars during the 2012-13 school year to help students cover the costs of attending state universities and community colleges.
UNC Need-Based Grants received $42.8 million in lottery dollars to provide grants to North Carolina residents attending one of the 16 campuses that are part of the UNC system. The N.C. Education Lottery Scholarship received $30.4 million in lottery dollars to provide scholarships to North Carolina residents attending a state university or community college. The N.C. State Education Assistance Authority oversees the scholarship and grants programs and began processing applications in March so that funds could be distributed before the fall semester began.
The UNC Need-Based Grant program received more support from the lottery this year – an additional $32.1 million – because of a decision by the N.C. General Assembly to allocate higher than expected earnings from the lottery in fiscal year 2012 to the program. Lottery dollars will make up 29 percent of the $147.6 million grant program this year.
“Our lottery exists in North Carolina to serve a good cause such as making college more affordable,” said Alice Garland, executive director of the Education Lottery. “We’re pleased that the extra money the lottery earned last year as players enjoyed our games will be put to such good use.”
New reports by the State Education Assistance Authority provide a breakdown of how the lottery dollars were used last year in the two programs. In school year 2011-12, $32.8 million in Education Lottery Scholarships went to 31,427 students attending a state university, private college, or community college. The average annual scholarship was $1,045. That same year, 56,934 students attending one of the 16 campuses in the UNC system received $125.6 million in grants from the UNC Need-Based Grant program. Lottery dollars made up $10.7 million of that program, or about 8.5 percent. The average annual grant was $2,207.
“More than 88,000 scholarships and grants helped North Carolinians pay for higher education last year because of the N.C. Education Lottery,” said Steve Brooks, executive director of the authority, which oversees state financial aid programs. “We’re pleased to have these funds available to students who need help with the costs of higher education and very appreciative that lottery revenues are there to fill in where tax dollars and other funds aren’t available.”
Both the grants and scholarships are allocated based on financial need. Students are automatically considered for the grants and scholarships once they complete and file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.