Take a look at some of our Frequently Asked Questions.

What is NC Reach?

NC Reach is a state-funded scholarship offered to qualified applicants for up to 4 years of undergraduate study at NC public colleges and universities.  Available funding is awarded after other public funds and scholarships have been applied.  NC Reach provides comprehensive student support, including mentors, care packages and internships.

Who is eligible for NC Reach?

Students are eligible for NC Reach if they are:

  • Legal residents of North Carolina, eligible for in-state tuition rates
  • Adopted from NC Division of Social Services (DSS) foster care after the age of 12, OR, aged out of NC DSS foster care at age 18 (they must have been in care on their 18th birthday)
  • Enrolled in one of the 74 NC public community colleges, colleges or universities
  • Under the age of 26 (participants remain eligible until their 26th birthday)

Which schools can students attend to receive NC Reach?

Students attending any of the 74 NC public community colleges, colleges or universities are eligible to apply for NC Reach.  Private colleges and universities are not part of this program.  For a complete guide to NC state colleges and universities, click HERE.

How do students apply to NC Reach?

Applications are not considered until students:

  1. Complete the online application.
  2. Download, complete and submit the 3-page student document packet:
  • Financial Aid Release Form: This is signed and submitted to the bursar’s office at the student’s school, which sends the required information, documenting enrollment and unmet financial need, to NC Reach
  • Student Participation Form: This form provides detailed information about NC Reach, including the requirements that students complete a budget and communicate regularly with their assigned NC Reach Coordinator
  • Budget: After completing steps (1) and (2), students are assigned an NC Reach Coordinator, who works with them to develop a budget for the semester, identify and access on-campus resources, and outline a plan for academic success

NC Division of Social Services (DSS) determines the initial eligibility of each applicant

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that required documentation is sent to NC Reach; applicants should log into the student portal to see if their school has done so

NC Reach applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year to determine their eligibility for other federal and state grants, loans and work-study.  Click HERE for more information or to complete the FAFSA.

How are NC Reach funds disbursed?

NC Reach funds may be used for the following expenses:

  • Tuition and fees
  • On-campus housing
  • On-campus meal plans
  • Books and school supplies
  • Off-campus housing (rent) and associated living expenses
  • Transportation to and from school (not to include the purchase of a car)
  • Child care

After the application is complete and the student budget has been developed, NC Reach emails an award letter to the student and their school informing them of the grant amount for the current (upcoming) semester.

  • All NC Reach funding is disbursed by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) directly to the college financial aid office
  • NC Reach funding is applied to tuition, fees and on-campus housing/meal plan (if applicable)
  • Any remaining funds are disbursed to the student as a refund check from their school, to be used for
    • Books and school supplies
    • Rent and associated living expenses
    • Transportation to and from school (not to include the purchase of a car)
    • Child care

Students should check with their school’s financial aid office regarding any refunds; each school is different and NC Reach has no control over the refund process and cannot predict when refund checks are issued.



What benefits do NC Reach students receive?

NC Reach students receive the following benefits:

  • Funding to cover tuition and fees at their school without having to take out student loans
  • Many students also receive a refund which may be used for school-related living expenses
  • Students are matched with a NC Reach coordinator who helps them academically, personally and in designing a career path
  • They are eligible to request a personal coach to assist and encourage their progress in school through telephone calls, email and social media
  • They receive three care packages during each school year
  • They are eligible to participate in the Foster Care to Success InternAmerica Program

What are the student’s responsibilities as a part of NC Reach?

The NC Reach Student Participation Agreement lists the student’s responsibilities as a recipient of the scholarship.  Students should keep a copy of the agreement after they submit their signed copy to NC Reach.

Students must:

  • Demonstrate that they are making satisfactory progress toward their academic goal
  • Stay in touch with NC Reach by telephone or email, at least twice a month
  • Check and read their email at least once a week
  • Submit new NC Reach forms each term (semester/quarter) in order to receive funding the following term
  • Ask their school to mail their official transcript to  NC Reach at the end of each term they are funded by NC Reach
  • Update their application every time their personal information changes

How does a student remain eligible for NC Reach funding?

To remain eligible for NC Reach, students must be advancing towards their educational degree or certification (making “satisfactory progress).  At the end of each semester, academic progress is measured by reviewing an official transcript mailed directly from the school to NC Reach.  Faxes, emails and unofficial transcripts are not accepted.

Academic requirements:

  • To receive NC Reach funding, students must be enrolled at least 6 credit hours
  • To remain in good standing with their postsecondary institution and with NC Reach, students must achieve at least a 2.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) every academic term (semester or quarter) that they receive funding
  • NC Reach funds may not be used to retake a class which a student previously failed (F) or from which they withdrew (W).

Satisfactory Progress means:

  • Maintaining an overall passing average (generally 2.0 GPA or higher)
  • Earning the required credits as a full- or part-time student that will lead to a degree, diploma or certificate in no more than 150% of the credit hours required to earn that certification.  In other words, if an associate’s degree requires 60 credits, students must complete the degree with no more than 90 credits.

What happens if a student does not maintain Satisfactory Progress?

The first time a student falls below a term GPA of 2.0, withdraws from a class (W) or fails a class (F), the student is required to participate in the Academic Success Program.  If the student does not raise their term GPA to above a 2.0 the following term, they will be suspended from receiving NC Reach funding for one full year.  They may also risk losing their Pell and ETV funding.

What is the Academic Success Program?

The Academic Success Program (ASP) matches NC Reach students with qualified, trained coaches who work with them intensively to help them improve their GPA to a 2.0 or better over the course of one academic term.

ASP teaches students to:

  • Understand the process for successful course completion, including note taking, preparing for exams, writing papers and other study techniques
  • Utilize on-campus student support services such as tutoring centers, math and language labs, and peer mentors
  • Increase their confidence in their ability to achieve academically
  • Continue their satisfactory academic performance in subsequent terms as a result of the student skills they learn through ASP
  • Persist in their postsecondary aspirations and complete their degree, diploma or certification requirements

What is COA and What Does it Mean for Me?

“Cost of Attendance” (COA) is the amount your school determines it will cost you to attend classes and live while a student for one academic year – tuition, fees, on-campus room and board (or housing and food for off-campus students), and allowances for books, supplies, personal costs (toiletries, clothing, medical), transportation and, if applicable to you, loan fees.  COA is a general figure that you can find on your school’s website, and it is divided into on-campus, off-campus, off-campus living with parents, in-state and out-of-state, undergraduate and graduate.  COA does not include items like child/dependent care, a computer, costs related to a disability, or other special expenses an individual might have.  However, if you visit your financial aid office you can make a case for having such expenses added to your COA.

By federal law, a student cannot receive financial aid of any sort (Pell, ETV, other state grants, scholarships, or loans) beyond the published COA for their school.

NEW INFO: the 2017-18 FAFSA

You’re used to completing the FAFSA in January, or in April after submitting your tax return.  That’s no longer the case; starting with 2017-18, the FAFSA opens on October 1 and is based on your tax return from two years ago. 

What’s the hurry?

  • Your financial aid is based on your FAFSA – the Pell Grant and need-based scholarships and loans.
  • Most financial aid is first-come, first-served.  You want to be at the head of the line!
  • It’s easy, especially if you’ve done it before – it shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes.
  • You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to directly upload the information from your 2015 tax return to your FAFSA.

What if I didn’t file a federal tax return in 2015?

  • Ÿ  If you answer “I’m not going to file.” to Question 32, you are skipped ahead to question 39.
  • Ÿ  Question 39 – Answer with the amount you remember earning in 2015; if you earned over $10,300 as a single, independent student, you would have had to file a federal tax return.
  • Ÿ  Question 40 – Answer with information for your spouse, if you were married in 2015.
  • Ÿ  Questions 41-43 – These must be answered with information that is true for the day on which you complete the FAFSA.

 I filed a federal tax return in 2015 – can I use the IRS DRT?

You can use the DRT UNLESS you filed your 2015 tax return:

  • Married Filing Separately
  • Married, Head of Household, or
  • You filed an amended tax return
  • You filed a foreign tax return

How do I use the IRS DRT?

  • Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and login using your FSA ID.  You should have this from last year – if you do not have one, you can create it from the FAFSA login page.
  • Start your 2017-18 application, which should be populated with some of the answers from last year.
  • When you get to the financial information tab, you will be asked questions to determine whether you are eligible to use the IRS DRT.  If you are eligible, enter your FSA ID and password and click LINK TO IRS.
  • From there, complete the requested information and click submit.  Review your tax return, check “Transfer my information into the FAFSA,” and hit TRANSFER NOW.
  • Your information will be transferred and you will be returned to your FAFSA.

 What if my income has changed significantly since 2015?

Once you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), you can talk to your financial aid office and they can assess your situation and make adjustments.  The SAR will be available on your FAFSA account within one week of completing the application.

How do I make sure I get independent status as a foster youth?

Questions 46-58 ask about your status.  You need only one YES answer to qualify as independent.  Generally, this is question 53, “At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?”

NOTE – Ask your caseworker or agency to provide you with a Foster Care letter, which should state the dates and jurisdiction of your time in care and may also list the programs (ETV, independent living services etc.) for which you are eligible. 

What happens if my FAFSA is selected for verification?

Verification is the process used to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is correct.  About one-third of all FAFSAs are selected for verification by the Department of Education, based on tax and personal information.  Schools may select additional FAFSAs for verification.  If your FAFSA is selected, you will need to provide your financial aid office with more information.

How do I know my FAFSA has been selected for verification?

  • There is an asterisk (*) next to the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) on your Student Aid Report (SAR).
  • Your school’s financial aid office will reach out to you through your online student account to request further information.  You should check your student email account regularly for messages from your school.

What do I do next?

  • Visit your financial aid office right away – the sooner you’re verified, the sooner your financial aid package can be finalized.
  • If you used the IRS DRT and did not change any of the information, you will not have to provide your physical tax return.
  • If you are asked to provide proof that you were in foster care, you can use a letter from your caseworker or agency.

What are the deadlines?

  • The federal deadline (for the 2017-18 Pell etc.) is June 30, 2018. (This is not a typo.)
  • The North Carolina deadline is “as soon as possible after October 1, 2016.”  North Carolina state grants are made on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are depleted.