Increase font size
Decrease font size

University Scholarships

UNC offers a number of scholarships based on both a student’s financial need and merit.

Many of these awards are supported by generous Carolina donors. If you would like to establish a University scholarship or contribute to an existing fund, please contact the Office of University Development.

Most of the scholarships below are awarded by the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, and there is no need to submit anything other than your UNC Admissions application, FAFSA, and CSS/PROFILE.

Those administered by private foundations — like the Morehead-Cain and Robertson scholarships — require an additional application.

Need-Based Scholarships

Need-based scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need and academic performance. Some have additional criteria ranging from county of residence to field of study. Most are renewable  — extending over four years — so long as the recipient continues to have financial need and maintain academic requirements.

James M. Johnston Awards

  • Generously funded by the James M. Johnston Trust, the Johnston Awards are UNC’s premier need-based scholarships. Every year a select group of entering first-year, incoming students are chosen to be Johnston Scholars, based on outstanding high school records and leadership potential.
  • Entering students who submit the FAFSA and the CSS/PROFILE by March 1 are considered for this renewable award. Current recipients must also file the FAFSA by March 1 to determine the amount of their Johnston Award. Annual award amounts are adjusted to meet recipients’ financial aid eligibility.
  • Johnston Awards also include special enrichment programs. Faculty mentors, Johnston Honors Seminars, and leadership activities help bring Johnston Scholars together and enhance the Carolina experience.
  • Johnston Scholarships are renewable, provided that recipients achieve the minimum grade point average set by the program.
  • The Johnston Scholarship also covers additional expenses associated with UNC-sponsored Study Abroad programs.
  • If, in a given year, a Johnston Scholar evidences no financial need, he/she remains a Johnston Scholar and is guaranteed a minimum award of $1,000.

The Johnston Scholarship is part of The Scholars Program at Carolina. To learn more about The Scholars Program, including other awards, please visit scholarsprogram.unc.edu.

Wood Family Scholars Program

The Wood Family Scholars Program was established by Leonard and Carla Wood in 2014. Mr. Wood, founder of Wood Partners LLC in Atlanta, wanted to make it financially possible for outstanding students to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from which he earned his Master of Business Administration degree. He also wanted to help his Scholars develop as leaders and discover their path and their purpose, so that they could make the most of their talents and their lives.

In 2015, Chris Cole, founder of Cole Real Estate Investments and a longtime associate of Mr. Wood’s, began collaborating with Mr. Wood to support and encourage their Scholars.

Currently ten new first-year students each year receive the scholarship. These new students join other Wood Scholars in a close-knit community — one marked by excellence, exploration, and a spirit of mutual camaraderie and support.

Find out more about the Wood Family Scholars Program.

Blue Sky Scholarship Program

The Blue Sky Scholarship is a new initiative aimed to help students from middle-income North Carolina families to achieve a Carolina education.  Recipients will receive a renewable $7,500 scholarship, a $2,500 work study award, and a one-time $2,500 enrichment opportunity grant to use at any point prior to graduation for study abroad, internships or research.

This bold scholarship was envisioned and started by former UNC system President (2005-10), Erskine Bowles, who wanted to create a broad program of scholarship support for children of hard working North Carolina families needing financial assistance to attend his alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Recipients must qualify for financial aid according to the FAFSA and CSS Profile, and will be selected from a pool of candidates identified by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.  There is no separate application.

An initial cohort of 10 students will be selected to receive the scholarship for the academic year 2019-20, and the hope is that the scholarship will continue to grow to encompass many more.

Merit-Based Scholarships

The University offers merit-based scholarships to a select group of entering first-year, incoming students. Criteria include academic achievement, leadership qualities, commitment to service, and potential for success at the University. Financial need is not a consideration.

Because UNC is a selective university, competition for these awards is very strong. Recipients must demonstrate impressive academic and extracurricular achievements and show promise of engagement in the life of the University.

There is no separate application for merit-based scholarships at UNC (except for the Morehead-Cain and Robertson; see below).

Selection is based on your admissions application, and scholarship candidates will be notified after they have been admitted. All merit recipients will receive automatic consideration for the University’s Honors Program; there is no separate application for the Honors Program.

The UNC Scholars Program is made up of the Carolina Scholars, Colonel Robinson Scholars, Johnston Scholars, and Pogue Scholars. It includes faculty mentoring, social and academic programming, and four-year, renewable awards. To learn more, visit scholarsprogram.unc.edu.

Other merit-based scholarships awarded through the Office of Scholarships and Student aid include:

  • Old Well and Founders Scholarships provide renewable awards of at least $3,000 to students from North Carolina who come to the University with an exemplary academic record. Additional criteria for these awards may include county of residence and high school attended.
  • College Fellows Scholarships provide renewable awards of $2,500 to high-achieving students from North Carolina.
  • MacDonald Community Service Scholarships are awarded to a limited number of undergraduate students with a demonstrated commitment to community service, offering renewable awards of up to $5,000. Recipients are expected to participate in community service programs through the Carolina Center for Public Service.

The Morehead-Cain and the Robertson: Separate Applications

UNC is home to two exceptional scholarship programs that are run by private foundations, not by the University:  The Morehead-Cain Scholars Program and The Robertson Scholars Program. Visit their websites for details and application information.

You can also explore scholarships through the UNC Office of Distinguished Scholarships.

Graduate and Professional Merit-Based Scholarships

Graduate and professional students may wish to check with your academic department and also review the various scholarships listed by the UNC Office of Distinguished Scholarships.

Other Scholarships

A scholarship with various stipulations that is awarded through the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid is:

  • The Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship is a financial award available to juniors and seniors in the College of Arts and Sciences who wish to travel abroad. To be eligible, applicants must have attended a high school in North Carolina before coming to UNC-Chapel Hill. Click this link to access The Phillips Travel Scholarship application that is available online. Award decisions are made in December.

Other scholarships that are not awarded through the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid include:

  • Athletic scholarships are not awarded by the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid. Our office only administers athletic scholarships awarded by the Athletic Department. For more information about athletic scholarships, please call the Administrative Office of the Athletics Department at (919) 962-6000, or write to the head coach of the sport of your interest.

    Athletic Department
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    PO Box 2126
    Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2126

  • Military service-related scholarships may be available through the respective offices:

You may also be interested in reviewing our Scholarships FAQs.