Helping North Carolina students pay the costs of going to college exists as one of the good causes served by the Education Lottery. This year $73.7 million of lottery dollars will go to scholarship and financial aid programs.

Lottery dollars support two financial aid programs, the N.C. Education Lottery Scholarship program and the UNC Need-Based Grant program. This fiscal year, $30.4 million in lottery dollars will go to scholarships and $43.3 million to the grant program. Both programs are administered by the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority.

Recent recipients of financial aid say that the support played an important role in helping them achieve their education goals.

• Stephanie Page, a lottery scholarship recipient from Gastonia, plans to graduate in December from UNC-Charlotte with a double major of business management and religious studies. “A scholarship means that somebody cares about what I’m doing,” said Page. “And it’s a really great feeling to receive something like that. It’s like an extra award on top of the degree.”
• Erica Woodington of Fayetteville recently wrote a thank-you note to the lottery for the scholarship she received while attending Fayetteville Technical Community College. “I know the money that was awarded to me was not free money and that someone was responsible for helping me achieve my education goals,” wrote Woodington, who plans to pursue a degree in social work. “… I truly value every educational opportunity I receive.”

Once a quarter, the lottery transfers the money it makes to the state. On Thursday, the lottery transferred $153.8 million, the largest quarterly transfer made so far. The transfer included $126.6 million earned from ticket sales and unclaimed prizes in the first quarter of the year and $27.2 million in revenues and unclaimed prizes after the final transfer was made for fiscal year 2013.The transfer brings the total amount earned for education and the state since the lottery started seven years ago to $3.07 billion.

Reports by the State Education Assistance Authority provide a breakdown of how the lottery dollars were used during the last school year in the two financial aid programs. In school year 2012-2013, $27.5 million in Education Lottery Scholarships went to 27,144 students attending a state university or community college. The average annual scholarship was $1,015. That same year, 64,245 students attending one of the 16 campuses in the UNC system received $144.4 million in grants from the UNC Need-Based Grant program. Lottery dollars made up $42.9 million of that program, or about 29.7 percent. The average annual grant was $2,247.

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.

College scholarship and grants are one of several initiatives supported by the Education Lottery. Legislators decide how lottery dollars are used and how they are allocated. Of the $482 million in lottery dollars expected for fiscal year 2014, legislators allocated 45.8 percent of the money to teacher salaries in grades K-3; 20.8 percent to counties for school construction or repair projects; 15.7 percent to N.C. Pre-K, an academic pre-school program for at-risk four-year-olds; 15.3 for college scholarships and financial aid; and 2.4 percent for digital learning.

To learn more about the benefits of the lottery to education, visit the page on the Education Lottery’s website.