Financial Aid

Reviewed 5/2023

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 before the beginning of their freshman 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 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 $17.6 million for 2021-22. The 2022-23 budget decreased to $15.2 million due to a change in section 8.7 of the 2021 Appropriations Act which eliminated the previous exclusion of students on full athletic scholarships from tuition remission residency provisions. To comply with Title IX, the Department of Athletics ensures that the total amount of financial aid made available to male and female student-athletes is proportional to their participation rates. 

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 (NIL) unless it is accompanied by an institutional ASA. Further, UNC may not  permit a prospective student-athlete to sign a form indicating acceptance of 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 reduced or cancelled. 

The OSSA contacts each student-athlete who will have 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 3 credit hours of Summer School. In summer terms subsequent to initial full-time collegiate enrollment, summer aid is available only to students who received, or will receive, athletic aid during an academic year adjacent to the summer term in which they register for Summer School. .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 more than 2 credit hours for undergraduate students and 3 credit hours for graduate students). 

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, but room and board is not awarded where a student lives at home with a parent/guardian.  

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, and personal expenses are the student-athlete’s responsibility. 

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. 

3.8 Fueling Stations, Meals and Training Table

Under new NCAA legislation, an institution may provide meals and snacks to a student-athlete at any time. The Department of Athletics provides a Training Table lunch for all student-athletes Monday – Thursday during the academic year. In addition, there are “grab-and-go” nutritional snacks for student-athletes to maximize muscle recovery and optimize athletic performance. These are available in the weight rooms or the Kenan Football Center. In addition to providing snacks, the Department of Athletics Sports Dietician educates student-athletes on how to meet their individual nutritional needs. 

As a general rule, an institution shall not provide cash for meals unless authorized by NCAA legislation. 

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.  

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. For courses offered in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Undergraduate Curricula monitors the availability of course syllabi during the beginning of each term to ensure that this is the case. During the registration period, all instructors are encouraged to upload a draft syllabus to Class Features. 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. 

UNC Student Stores places an order on behalf of each book scholarship student-athlete. The student-athlete receives a confirmation email and additional email when their order is ready. 

After student-athletes go to UNC Student Stores to sign for their book and pick them up prior to the first day of classes.  

When student-athletes go to UNC Student Stores to pick up their books, they must identify themselves as a student-athlete and present their UNC One Card and UNC Student Stores verifies that the student has an order ready for pickup. The student-athlete asks that the the book charges be placed 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 UNC Student Stores cannot provide a textbook or other course materials (or do so in a timely manner), then the student has the option to purchase the material and be reimbursed. A student-athlete may not, however, receive the same material from more than one source.  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 their 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, they 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 a from through Teamworks. They must upload copies of the syllabi and receipt. (Note: such occurrences should be rare as faculty are encouraged to submit required texts and materials to UNC Student Stores prior to the beginning of the semester). Once submitted, the reimbursement request is routed to the student-athlete’s ASPSA counselor and then to the Compliance staff member overseeing financial aid. Approved reimbursement requests are sent to OSSA and the 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 disbursement to the student. 

3.9.5 Dropping Classes and Drop Forms

An electronic drop form is completed by Academic Advising and forwarded to the ASPSA staff. An ASPSA Academic Counselor must review and sign a student-athlete’s drop form before they can drop a class, so that the student is aware of how the change may impact their progression towards their degree, as well as UNC and NCAA eligibility. Once signed by the ASPSA Academic Counselor, the document is sent to the Office of the University Registrar for processing. 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 prior to the course census date, they are 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. 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)