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Craven County Schools Partners with CFNC to offer NC Countdown to College
Toni Blount, College Advising and Scholarships Coordinator
The month of October brings cooler weather and high school/college football, but it also brings an excitement to North Carolina high school seniors and their families. It is college application and scholarship season! As the College Advising and Scholarship District Coordinator for Craven County Schools, I am committed to promoting and supporting the college and scholarship processes in the school district. We are partnering with The College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) in sponsoring a month-long event entitled NC Countdown to College which features the necessary planning steps to plan, apply, and pay for college through Residency Determination, FAFSA, and college applications.
Amy Denton, College Foundation of North Carolina Regional Director, states, “During the week of October 21-25, many colleges will be adjusting application fees by either accepting fee waivers from eligible students or waiving application fees all together. What a cost savings for families! Application fees can vary from $25 to over $100. While NC Countdown to College focuses especially on first-generation college students and students who may not otherwise apply to college, we encourage participating high schools to include activities for all students, including freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have already applied to college. Event activities are supported by research which indicates that students can better navigate the path to college when high schools can: 1) engage and assist students in completing critical steps for college entry, 2) increase families’ financial awareness, and 3) help students apply for financial aid. Involving all students in Countdown to College will add to the college-going culture in high schools in Craven County and across North Carolina. We hope students will think of CFNC as their one-stop shop for college and career preparation. From career exploration, college searches, and test prep to submitting applications, high school transcripts, and exploring scholarships and other financial aid options, CFNC makes it easier for students to realize their goals beyond high school.”
In North Carolina, high school seniors have many opportunities for post-secondary options to include the NC Community College System two year associates and transfer degrees, diplomas and certificates, 16 UNC System universities, 37 Independent Colleges and Universities, military (with college and career options), apprentice programs and on- the- job training programs. College has a different look for each student, and with the NC Countdown to College, students have the opportunity to learn about their options, apply, and begin the scholarship and grant search. We want students to explore scholarships and grant applications with the ultimate goal of decreasing college loan debt and increasing credentials for career success.
Inside Higher Ed article, “Recruiting in Rural America” on August 12, 2019, Author Greta Anderson reports that the University of North Carolina system unveiled its strategic plan through 2022, with one of its primary goals to enroll 11 percent more students from rural and low-income counties and increase these students’ degree attainment by 20 percent.
During the 2018-19 academic year, UNC Chapel Hill’s admissions officers hosted and attended 435 recruitment events across North Carolina for admitted students and families, including many in rural communities. Opportunities are increasing such as: pathways for NC Community College transfer students to pursue bachelor’s degrees, providing more options for online education, and implementing NC Promise, which created a fixed $500-per-semester tuition rate at three state universities -- UNC Pembroke (home to the Lumbee tribe, North Carolina’s largest American Indian tribe), Elizabeth City State University (a historically black institution) and Western Carolina University (the most western UNC university).
In my role with Craven County Schools, I will provide student and parent informational sessions throughout the year on College 101, financial aid and scholarships, and the importance of pre-college programs such as Summer Ventures, Hugh Shelton, Boys and Girls State, Governor’s School, leadership, part-time employment, volunteer and community service endeavors.
Each high school in the district will provide students and families with detailed activities throughout the month of October. The plans are underway and will include College t-shirt day, topic specific informational sessions, collegiate tailgate, guest speakers, onsite admission decisions and application workshops during the school day with counselors and teachers to complete RDS, FAFSA and college applications.
The traveling CACRAO college admissions fair will be at the following locations:
West Craven High School Oct. 21 (8-9 am)
New Bern High School Oct 21 (1:30-2:30 pm)
Havelock High School Oct. 22 (9-10 am)
Early College EAST Oct. 22 (at HHS) (9:30-10 am)
Craven Early College: students have the option to attend any of the locations
New Bern High School will offer a career fair to students on Oct. 21 from 9am -1 pm. Students will visit the fair to discuss careers with a variety of career experts in health care, trades, banking, emergency medical, law, hospitality and much more. If you are interested in attending the fair as a vendor to represent your career field, please contact Lori Prescott at New Bern High School, 514-6046, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NC Countdown to College statewide initiative includes:
- Go to www.ncresidency.org to complete your residency determination, also known as RDS. This is important regardless of what college or university you may attend in North Carolina.
- Completing the federal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college. In addition to federal financial aid, the State of North Carolina and most NC colleges use FAFSA information to award state and institutional financial aid.
- College Application Week for 2019 is October 21-25 (all applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m on 10/25 to receive the fee waiver). Volunteers at hundreds of NC high schools will help students submit online applications for admission. During this week, many North Carolina colleges and universities waive their application fees. Qualifying students can use the College Board, ACT, or NACAC fee waiver for institutions not waiving their application fees (see your high school counselor for more information).
Leslie Lloyd, Executive Director of Financial Aid at Craven Community College, shares, “Craven Community College is happy to help all students complete their FAFSA, regardless of where they decide to go to school. To complete the FAFSA visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa. Additionally, the scholarship application at Craven is open from January through April of each year for the following academic year. Students can apply for more than 80 scholarships with one application! You can check out our scholarship website at http://cravencc.edu/financialaid/scholarships/.”
College visits, career job shadowing, and using the resources on CFNC, College Board and ACT are all strategies I encourage. Senior students should actively be applying for scholarships through college websites, CFNC, College Board Opportunity Scholarships, parent employers, faith-based organizations, local banks and credit unions, community organizations, and the high school/district scholarship webpage with links to many state, national and military scholarships.
For families with younger students, it is never too early to begin planning for high school, college and career. With the help of CFNC.org, students can complete career inventories, search for college majors, complete a financial literacy course and apply for college and scholarships. On Oct. 7, all students, teachers and staff in Craven County Schools are encouraged to wear their college/military shirt and employees will share their college story with students throughout the day. This College Colors Day is designated to increase college awareness and to share information with students in K-12th grade.
For more information on the NC Countdown to College events at each school, please refer to the school counseling webpages, counseling offices and social media sites for each high school.