The Garinger Education Foundation (GEF) has been helping Garinger High School (GHS) graduates earn 2- and 4-year college degrees and professional certifications since 2014. As of Fall 2021, 94 degrees and professional certifications have been earned by 78 GEF Scholars with support from GEF. These former GEF Scholars have moved forward into careers or graduate school and are making their dreams reality. One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in your chosen profession is to enter the work force unburdened by college debt.
Completing the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as early as possible is your first step down the path to a debt-free or minimal-debt college education. The FAFSA is your access to wide variety of Federal and NC financial aid for college including the Federal Pell Grant (2021-2022 maximum is $6,345/year), Federal Work-Study programs (up to $4000/year), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (up to $4000/year), NC Education Lottery Scholarship (up to $3,768/year), and many other scholarships and grants. Most colleges and universities use the FAFSA to allocate need-based awards to help you assemble the best financial package to pay for college.
Choosing Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) as your initial college after graduating from GHS is the next step along the path to a more affordable college education. Whether your plan is to earn an associate degree or professional certification or to pursue a 4-year degree, CPCC offers excellent educational opportunities for reasonable tuition. While at CPCC, GHS graduates1 are eligible for our GEF/CPCC Joint Scholarship Program. This program provides up to $1000/year until you earn your degree.2 If you are awarded a GEF scholarship, those funds can be used at CPCC and combined with JSP awards! Also, the scholarship moves to your 4-year college if you transfer. When you combine GEF funding with a Pell grant and/or other financial aid based on your FAFSA, the cost of attending CPCC should be covered.
Transferring to a university in the North Carolina university system from CPCC keeps you on the affordable college path if your goal is to earn a 4-year degree. CPCC offers a full range of courses to earn credit hours that can be transferred to the universities in this system. In fact, CPCC and UNC Charlotte (UNCC) collaborate to make it easier to transfer from CPCC to UNCC:
- 49erNext is a CPCC program for students who plan to transfer to UNCC to pursue a bachelor’s degree
- UNC Charlotte Passport is a one year, invitation-only program for first-time college students that enables students to complete their first year of college coursework at CPCC; you have to apply to UNCC; UNCC selects participants.
Your 4-year GEF scholarship transfers with you! If you don’t already have a scholarship, you can apply to GEF for a 2-3-year Wildcat Transfer scholarship [insert link] when you leave CPCC to pursue a degree at a university in the NC system.
1 CPCC Opportunity Scholarship recipients are not eligible for the GEF/CPCC Joint Scholarship Program; your GHS graduation date must have been within past 10 years.
2 If you have earned a degree or certification from CPCC or exceeded 90 credit hours, you are not eligible for the GEF/CPCC Joint Scholarship Program.
Understanding the Cost of College
College costs are not just tuition, fees, and books. Students must also pay for health insurance, living expenses like room/rent and food, personal expenses, and transportation. But right in your own backyard, GHS grads have access to CPCC and UNCC – both offering a full range of academic, professional, and degree programs for a reasonable cost. Choosing one of these excellent colleges, also gives GHS grads the option of living at home to save money. To earn your degree with minimal or no debt, understand the full cost of attending the college you choose and find all your sources of available funding.