Special to Iredell Free News

Gov. Roy Cooper highlighted the Longleaf Commitment community college grant program during a roundtable at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte on Thursday.  

Cooper met with education leaders and grant recipients to spotlight the program and raise awareness for current high school seniors who may be eligible to get a grant to attend community college debt-free.

The governor was joined by CPCC President Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, NC Community College System President Thomas Stith and several Longleaf Commitment grant recipients to discuss the program and its impact on students in North Carolina. Cooper will hold more events across the state to show the success of this program and encourage graduating high school seniors to take advantage of the funding it offers.

“North Carolina’s community colleges are our not-so-secret weapon when it comes to building a talented workforce, and Longleaf Commitment grants are helping to make education and training more accessible and affordable,” Cooper said. “These grants are already helping North Carolinians get the skills they need by making community college debt-free, and I encourage all eligible graduating high school seniors to take advantage of this funding.”

“Receiving the Longleaf Commitment grant has meant a lot to me. I am able to use this grant to cover any additional costs to finish my degree,” said Leila Turner, a CPCC student and Longleaf Grant recipient. “I am grateful to have this opportunity and I look forward to continuing to focus on my studies without any financial stress.”

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to transform the lives of this year’s high school graduates in North Carolina,” Deitemeyer added. “The Longleaf Commitment grant funds will help our incoming students pay for college to achieve their academic goals, secure a better paying job, begin a family-sustaining career, or pursue further education.”

“Education translates into opportunity, and with this grant, we are excited to provide more opportunity to our diverse student populations across the state,” Stith said. “North Carolina’s ‘Great 58’ community colleges are essential to the state’s economic recovery efforts and are well poised to prepare the workforce needed today and tomorrow.”

In May 2021, the Governor launched the Longleaf Commitment community college grant program that ensures that recent high school graduates from low- and middle-income families will receive at least $2,800 in federal and state grants to cover tuition and most fees at any of the state’s 58 community colleges. The Commitment program supplements the federal Pell grant and existing aid by providing an additional $700 to $2,800 grant per year.

To date, 11,604 students have received a Longleaf Commitment Grant totaling $4,614,021. Seventy percent of the grants have gone to students with family incomes less than $60,000.

At Cooper’s direction, the Longleaf Commitment Program was created last year for 2021 high school graduates and funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds. In November 2021, the Governor signed the bipartisan state budget into law which expands the Longleaf Commitment Program to include 2022 high school graduates.

Eligible high school seniors can apply for the Longleaf Commitment Grant by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and enrolling in a community college.

Learn more about the Longleaf Commitment Grants and how to apply HERE.