Financial Aid

The Department of Athletics coordinates with the Office of Student Scholarships and Aid (OSSA) to allocate and administer athletic scholarships

The Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group identified and compiled recommendations from reports over the past several years and linked each report recommendation to 21 academic processes. Report Recommendations for Financial Aid

3.0 Financial Aid

“How do athletic scholarships work?”

The NCAA recommends that students register with the Eligibility Center at the beginning of their junior year in high school.

Universities may offer athletics aid to student-athletes in accordance with NCAA regulations. Athletics aid at UNC-Chapel Hill may cover all or part of tuition and fees, room and board, books and other related expenses up to the cost of attendance as defined by the institution. Football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and women’s tennis are considered head count sports (i.e., recipient of aid counts as 1.0 regardless of the dollar amount received.). All other sport programs award athletics aid based on equivalencies (e.g., men’s soccer has the equivalency of 9.9 athletic scholarships that the coach may divide among team members as he/she chooses).

The NCAA legislates the number of scholarships allotted to each team; all teams at UNC use their full allotment of scholarships each year except rowing and fencing.  To view a table of scholarship allotments by sport, click here.

3.1 Athletics Aid Budget

The Educational Foundation, Inc., was chartered December 7, 1938, to provide assistance to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the following: To offer financial aid to worthy young men and women seeking an education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and to support University programs by providing services and funds for the construction of facilities or purchase of equipment.”

The Department of Athletics proposes an annual budget to the Educational Foundation (Rams Club) for the upcoming academic year for athletically related financial aid. As the athletic fundraising arm of the University, the Rams Club (See Process 20.0) uses these projections to focus its fundraising efforts. The aid budget was $13.1 million for 2013-14 and $15 million for 2014-15.  The 2015-16 budget increased to $16.6 million due to the Cost of Attendance legislation change.

To comply with Title IX, the Department of Athletics ensures that the percentage of financial aid received by women is greater than or equal to the overall percentage of female student-athletes.

3.2 Athletics Scholarship Agreement (ASA)

In accordance with NCAA rules, no written offers of aid may be made prior to August 1 of a prospective student-athlete’s senior year in high school. This written offer may be provided by the institution as an Athletics Scholarship Agreement (ASA). A student-athlete cannot sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) unless it is accompanied by an institutional ASA. Further, UNC may not issue an ASA prior to the initial signing date for the NLI program in the same sport. The NLI is a binding agreement between the Department of Athletics and the student-athlete, but the Office of Admissions is not bound to the NLI. (See also Process 2.0)

3.3 The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid (OSSA)

The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid (OSSA) receives the Athletics Scholarship Agreement (ASA) from the Department of Athletics and codes the student-athletes receiving aid in PeopleSoft (ConnectCarolina). The OSSA typically receives this agreement prior to the allocation and awarding of need-based/institutional financial aid, which usually occurs in March.

In addition to governing athletics aid, NCAA rules regulate the amount and types of other aid student-athletes are allowed to receive and whether or not such aid would be considered countable against both individual and team limits. Aid received by a student-athlete in excess of either could result in a violation of NCAA rules. The OSSA carefully determines each student-athlete’s eligibility for institutional and non-institutional financial aid. The Department of Athletics Compliance Office reviews and approves this information before an award is posted to the student-athlete’s account.

In some cases, the student-athlete may be a participant on a team that is not fully funded. This leaves room in the team limit for the student-athlete to accept institutional aid in addition to athletics aid. Other times, the student-athlete’s athletics aid may be less than the institutional aid available from the OSSA. If prior to becoming a counter for an academic year, a prospective student-athlete or student-athlete is awarded institutional financial aid unrelated to athletics that is of equal or greater value than his or her signed award of athletics aid, the prospective student-athlete or student-athlete may, on his or her initiative, release the institution of its obligation to provide the athletics aid. In some cases student-athletes are eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants, which are considered entitlements that are not part of team aid limits and do not count toward a team’s equivalency, or loans in addition to athletics aid. The OSSA, in conjunction with the Department of Athletics Compliance Office, also monitors student-athletes’ receipt of private scholarships to ensure they meet all NCAA requirements.

3.4 Renewal of Athletics Aid

Most athletics aid is provided on an annual basis. Aid is officially renewed in the summer between each academic year. The NCAA requires that notification of aid renewal, reduction or cancellation be issued to student-athletes no later than July 1. Multi-year scholarships may be offered to student-athletes at the discretion of the coaches. Once a signed Athletics Scholarship Agreement (ASA) is executed, there are few circumstances under which athletics aid can be cancelled.

The OSSA contacts each student-athlete who will be having their athletics aid renewed via email no later than July 1, explaining that they need to check their ConnectCarolina account for the conditions for receipt of aid. Students whose aid is cancelled or reduced may appeal their aid cancellation through an appeal process external to Athletics.

In accordance with NCAA rules, the Department of Athletics has procedures for appealing a cancellation of athletics aid. The Policy Regarding Financial Aid states, “A decision by the Director of Athletics, in consultation with the appropriate Head Coach, to recommend termination of an existing grant-in-aid or non-renewal of a future grant-in-aid pursuant to this Policy will be referred to the Associate Provost and Director of the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, who is the institutional officer with the authority to accept or reject the recommendation regarding the athletics grant-in-aid. The student-athlete may pursue an appeal of a negative decision of the Associate Provost and Director of the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid on the grant-in-aid to the Chancellor’s Committee on Scholarships, Awards, and Student Aid by notifying the Chancellor’s Committee chair within ten (10) business days from the receipt of the Associate Provost’s decision. The Chancellor’s Committee shall hear the appeal as promptly as possible. Failure of the student-athlete to request an appeal within ten (10) business days following his or her receipt of the Associate Provost’s decision will be considered a waiver of the appeal.”

3.5 Revisions to the Scholarship Agreement

UNC can revise the terms and conditions of scholarship agreements to require student-athletes to reimburse the institution in the amount of their grant-in-aid if they render themselves academically ineligible.

3.6 Summer School

The Department of Athletics provides limited funding for student-athletes to attend Summer School. Summer School athletics grant-in-aid awards are separate from the regular academic year award. Summer grants-in-aid are limited and awarded in accordance with NCAA legislation, University policy and federal requirements to maintain gender equity.

All incoming student-athletes (first time entering first-year students) can receive athletics grant-in-aid in the summer prior to enrollment regardless of their aid status during the first year, provided they are enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours of Summer School. In summer terms subsequent to initial full-time collegiate enrollment, summer aid is only available to those who received aid during the previous academic term.

Former student-athletes who were not enrolled at UNC during the previous academic year and may be returning to complete their degree may apply for Summer School through the Complete Carolina Program (see Process 19.4 for more on the program).

Student-athletes planning to attend Summer School meet with their academic counselor in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) and apply for Summer School classes no later than March 15. The decision to attend Summer School is made by each student-athlete in conjunction with his/her academic counselors and coach. A coach may request grant-in-aid for a student-athlete to attend Summer School. Recommendations for awarding summer grant-in-aid are made to the Department of Athletics and are based on an evaluation of the following criteria, including, but not limited to:
a) Funding;
b) Course work for maintaining and continuing eligibility;
c) Course completion necessary for graduation following summer session;
d) Major courses required for graduation;
e) Increased likelihood of graduating in four-years with attendance in Summer School;
f) Class standing (first year, second year, third year, etc.);
g) Good academic standing and overall grades in previous coursework;
h) Availability of classes offered; or
i) Good conduct and behavior

All credit hours must be countable toward the student-athlete’s degree. Student-athletes must enroll in a minimum of 3 credit hours per summer session to be considered for grant-in-aid. Grant-in-aid requests made by student-athletes who are unable to enroll in at least 3 credit hours (e.g., class not offered, sequence of classes, limited hours to complete degree requirements, etc.) are reviewed by the Department of Athletics. (The University defines full-time summer enrollment as 4 credit hours in one of the summer terms.)

Applicants not recommended for Summer School, are not provided the opportunity for an appeal.

Summer grant-in-aid will not disburse until the drop/add period has ended, approximately the fourth day of the summer term. Grant-in-aid will be applied to the student-athlete’s ConnectCarolina account in accordance with institutional financial aid policy.

Online Courses Grant-in-aid may be applied toward online classes. Student-athletes enrolled in only online classes will not be provided room and board as part of their grant-in-aid. If a student-athlete is enrolled in both an online class and traditional class, room and board may be provided.

Advance Academic Programs and Study Abroad Programs summer grant-in-aid may be applied to advance academic programs (e.g., nursing, pharmacy, and business school) and study abroad programs that count toward the student-athlete’s degree requirements. Student-athletes must obtain permission from their head coach, academic counselor, and sport supervisor in advance of enrolling in the desired program. If approved, grant-in-aid may only cover up to tuition, fees, room, board and a book scholarship. Application fees, flights, personal expenses are the student-athlete’s responsibility.

Non-credit courses or summer programs grant-in-aid does not cover non-credited courses or programs (e.g., GRE preparation courses). Student-athletes interested in non-credited courses or programs should consult with their ASPSA counselor. Student-athletes needing financial assistance for these courses or programs may apply for funding through the Student-Athlete Fund (SAF).

3.7 Former Student-Athletes Returning to Earn Their Degrees

UNC can provide athletics aid to former student-athletes who have exhausted eligibility or who have left the University and decide to return to earn their degree. Students must apply for readmission to the University. In most cases, UNC (The Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Department of Athletics and the coaches) encourages student-athletes to return and complete their degrees. This process has been codified by the Complete Carolina initiative (see Process 19.4).

3.8 Fueling Stations, Meals and Training Table

The Department of Athletics provides a Fueling Station to all student-athletes during the academic year. The Fueling Station provides “grab-and-go” nutritional snacks to student-athletes to maximize muscle recovery and optimize athletic performance. In all sports except football, student-athletes may pick up snacks in the Loudermilk Center of Excellence during the weekday mornings. Football student-athletes may pick-up their snacks in the Kenan Football Stadium. In addition to providing snacks, the Department of Athletics Sports Dietician educates student-athletes on how to utilize the Fueling Station effectively to meet their individual needs.

In accordance with NCAA rules, the Department of Athletics provides meals and snacks to student-athletes as a benefit “incidental to participation” in intercollegiate athletics. The meals and snacks are not intended to replace meals that would normally be provided through a dining plan or off-campus board stipend. NCAA legislation does not permit institutions to provide meals to student-athletes with both a “meals stipend” and “meals incidental to participation” benefit.

The cost of meals provided on the institution’s training table shall be deducted from a student-athlete’s board allowance. In determining the cost figure to be deducted, the institution may use the actual meal costs listed in the institution’s catalog or the average meal costs of its student-athletes living on campus.

An institution may provide only one training table meal per day to a student-athlete during the academic year on those days when regular institutional dining facilities are open. A student-athlete who does not receive institutional athletically related financial aid covering the full cost of board, including a walk-on or partial scholarship recipient, may purchase one training table meal per day at the same rate that the institution deducts from the board allowance of student-athletes who receive athletically related financial aid covering board costs.

Student-athletes enrolled in summer classes at UNC and receiving athletics aid may receive a board stipend as part of their scholarship agreement. Students receiving board stipends automatically have meals deducted from their board allowance to cover the cost of food vouchers. They can use their vouchers at selected vendors around Chapel Hill. The Department of Athletics Sports Dietician is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the food voucher program.

3.9 Book Scholarships

A member institution may provide a student-athlete financial aid that covers the actual cost of course-related books. Calculation of aid for book scholarship recipients in equivalency sports must count $800 in the denominator for calculation. If a student-athlete receives any portion of a book allowance for the academic year, the institution must use $800 in the denominator and numerator for books, regardless of the actual cost of the books. There is no dollar limit for books a student-athlete may receive, provided each book is required or recommended for a course in which the student-athlete is enrolled. The institution may provide the student-athlete with cash to purchase books, as long as the amount of cash provided is equal to the actual cost of the books purchased.

3.9.1 Pre-Packaging and Purchasing Textbooks

The Department of Athletics Compliance Office produces a list of book scholarship recipients prior to the beginning of each semester. The Compliance Office shares this list with the OSSA, the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA), the University Cashiers Office and UNC Student Stores. The Compliance Office updates this list daily, or as coaches change scholarship allocations, and informs the above referenced parties of all updates.

During the first week of classes each term (including Summer School, when applicable), UNC Student Stores shares student-athlete book scholarship purchase information with the OSSA, the Compliance Office, the ASPSA and the Cashier’s Office. This information includes student-athlete book scholarship recipients who have not yet picked up their books.

Instructors must have their syllabi finalized and available in all courses on the first day of class so that students know the required books for the course. The Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education monitors the availability of course syllabi during the beginning of each term to ensure that this is the case. If a waitlisted student wishes to purchase a book, then the instructor’s academic department must add the student to the roster as soon as possible so that the book shows up on the student’s required book list and he/she can purchase it in a timely manner.

The ASPSA updates its database to reflect current book scholarship recipients. ASPSA Academic Counselors use the database to manage book scholarship procurement of books for each team.

Academic Counselors contact student-athlete book scholarship recipients from their assigned team(s) and provide several options regarding pre-packaging books at UNC Student Stores.

After student-athlete book scholarship recipients reply to their ASPSA Academic Counselors, the ASPSA sends a list of those who confirmed pre-packaging to UNC Student Stores so they can begin pre-packaging books accordingly. Student-athletes go to the first floor of UNC Student Stores in the days leading up to the first day of classes, sign for their books and pick them up.

When student-athletes go to UNC Student Stores to pick up their books, they must identify themselves as a student-athlete and ask to put the book charges on their student account, which will be paid by their book scholarship. UNC Student Stores verifies that the individual is on the list from the Department of Athletics Compliance Office. If there’s a discrepancy, UNC Student Stores will not give the student-athlete his/her books until they have confirmed and corrected the discrepancy with the Compliance Office.

If a student-athlete tells their ASPSA Counselor not to pre-package their books, he/she must go to the UNC Student Stores Textbook Department Service Desk where their schedule and required book lists will be printed. Student-athletes then pick up their printed schedule, pull their own books off the shelves and check out. They must identify themselves as a student-athlete and ask to put the book charges on their student account, which will be paid by their book scholarship.

Student-athletes may not buy texts for any other individual with their book scholarship. Doing so is an NCAA compliance violation, and the student-athlete risks losing his/her scholarship.

3.9.2 NCAA Student Assistance Fund (SAF)

Additional unmet needs for student-athletes may be covered by the NCAA Student Assistance Fund. SAF cannot be used to replace any element of aid provided by an athletic scholarship; however, all student-athletes have the ability to make requests for SAF funding for additional expenses (e.g., health insurance, clothing, emergency travel and taxes paid on room and board for international student-athletes).

3.9.3 Course Loan Supply Process

Student-athletes on book scholarships who are unable to purchase items required for class (e.g., graphing calculators, external hard drives, recording devices, etc.) may borrow these items from the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes on a case-by-case basis.

The student-athlete must do the following:

  • Consult with his/her Academic Counselor and present documentation to prove the need for supplies (e.g., a course syllabus)
  • Complete and sign the Course Loan Supply Agreement
  • Return all items in working condition by the last day of final exams during the semester in which the supplies are used. If the item is not returned, the student’s account will be charged the full value of the borrowed item prior to the last day of final exams during the semester the supplies are used.
  • Repair any damaged items prior to the last day of final exams during the semester in which the supplies are used (unless the item is beyond repair and must be replaced). If a student-athlete breaks an item, he/she will not be given a replacement item unless the Academic Counselor determines that the item broke because of natural wear and tear over time.

3.9.4 Student-Athlete Reimbursements

Student-athletes with book scholarships can purchase texts/supplies on their own and submit the receipt to their ASPSA Academic Counselor for reimbursement. (Note: such occurrences should be rare as faculty must submit syllabi, with required texts and materials listed, to UNC Student Stores prior to the beginning of the semester). The ASPSA submits the receipt and the corresponding course syllabus, as well as a copy of the student’s UNC OneCard, to the Department of Athletics Compliance Office. The Compliance Office tracks reimbursements for each student-athlete book scholarship recipient. The Compliance Office then reviews the reimbursement form submitted by the student-athlete’s ASPSA Counselor and, if approved, will send a list of reimbursements to OSSA and Cashier’s Office once a month for the reimbursement amount to be applied directly to the student’s account. If a student has an account balance, the amount will be applied to the balance before disbursing in a refund to the student.

3.9.5 Dropping Classes and Drop Forms

An ASPSA Academic Counselor must sign a student-athlete’s drop form before he/she can drop a class, so that the student is aware of how the change may impact his/her progression toward his/her degree, as well as UNC and NCAA eligibility. After a student-athlete leaves the drop form with an Academic Counselor, the ASPSA bundles the forms and delivers them to the Registrar, which drops the courses from the students’ schedules. The ASPSA tracks the courses that students have dropped in their database.

Also, if a student-athlete is on a book scholarship during any term and drops a course, he/she is responsible for returning the book(s) directly to UNC Student Stores. If the book is not returned, the student-athlete will be charged the full cost of the book in accordance with UNC Student Stores Refund Policy. ASPSA Academic Counselors communicate this information, included in student-athletes’ summer grant-in-aid agreements, to student-athletes who sign the agreements via Advanced Compliance Solutions (ACS), used by the Compliance Office for eligibility and compliance tracking.

Steps taken following dropped courses:

  • Student-athletes return their own books to UNC Student Stores.
  • Student-athletes must adhere to UNC Student Stores Official Refund Policy
  • Student-athletes who do not return a book are billed by the University Cashier’s Office no later than the last day of final exams during the semester when the book was purchased. The charge will be reversed if the student can prove that the book has been returned. UNC Student Stores works with the Compliance Office and the ASPSA on reporting and reconciling to verify charges before they are made by the Cashier.
  • The ASPSA sends a list of student-athletes’ dropped classes to UNC Student Stores which reconciles the list to determine books that have not been returned.
  • Each semester, UNC Student Stores sends a list of student-athlete books purchased, including student PIDs, to the ASPSA and the Compliance Office so that they can cross reference and reconcile this list.
  • Withdrawals do not show up on the dropped course report. Textbooks for classes from which the student-athlete withdraws must be returned to the ASPSA Counselor.

3.10 Athletics Aid and Academic Progress Rate (APR)

The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is an NCAA metric that was developed to track the eligibility and academic achievement of Division I teams. All student-athletes receiving institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletic ability and are enrolled full time as of the institution’s fifth week of classes or official census date for that institution are considered part of the APR cohort.

Even if the above criteria are met, the following are not included in the APR cohort:
1. Student-athletes who have exhausted athletics eligibility and/or have graduated.
2. Student-athletes who are enrolled beyond five years/10 semesters of actual full-time enrollment and have exhausted athletics eligibility.
3. Student-athletes who are five years beyond initial full-time collegiate enrollment and have exhausted eligibility.

The APR is calculated for each team on a term by term basis (Summer School is included in the Spring term). Scholarship student-athletes receive points for remaining eligible and points for staying in school or graduating. Teams scoring below certain thresholds can face consequences, including not earning access to postseason competition, practice restrictions and playing season reductions.

The APR is used as an early indicator of graduation rates and applies only to athletics aid recipients. (See also Process 12.0 Academic Performance Monitoring)