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’21 HS grads: Apply for free tuition for 2 years

Jun 15, 2021

Students in the high school Class of 2021 are eligible for free tuition and fees for two years at Rockingham Community College if they enroll for the upcoming fall semester.

The Longleaf Commitment is a grant program – not a loan – for 2021 graduates who attend a North Carolina community college to have financial help as they work toward an associate degree or earn college credits that will transfer to a four-year university.

Award amounts are based on how many credits a student is enrolled in during a semester, and the grant ends at the conclusion of the spring 2023 semester.

Students in the Career & College Promise program and Early College High School are eligible.

“The Longleaf Commitment grant is a game changer. There is no reason for a 2021 high school graduate to not pursue a college education,” said RCC President Dr. Mark Kinlaw. “They can complete an associate degree tuition-free in two years, and either start a career or transfer their credits to a university and earn a bachelor’s degree.”

Consideration for funding is automatic once the FAFSA is filed. Eligible students will be notified of grant awards by the College’s Financial Aid Office.

“Students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid application at www.fafsa.gov,” said RCC Director of Enrollment Services Derick Satterfield.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Graduate from a North Carolina high school in 2021
  • Be a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes
  • Be a first-time college student
  • Enroll in a curriculum program during the 2021-22 academic year
  • Enroll in at least 6 credit hours per semester
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2021-22
  • Have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from $0 – $15,000 (“EFC” is based upon a student’s FAFSA determination)
  • Renew the FAFSA for the 2022-23 academic years and meet the satisfactory academic progress requirements of the college

These funds were made available after North Carolina received a total of $137.8 million in aid from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund through federal COVID-19 relief packages. This allowed the Governor’s Office to launch the Longleaf Commitment in partnership with the NC Community College System and the State Education Assistance Authority to guarantee that students graduating from high school in 2021 from low-income and working-class families receive enough financial aid to cover tuition and fees, at any of the state’s 58 community colleges, in order to earn an associate degree and/or credits to transfer to a four-year institution.

To support student success after enrollment, the Longleaf Commitment program will also provide matching grants to help colleges expand student advising, success coaching, and related services.

“Education translates into opportunity, and I thank Governor Cooper for his decision to use federal funds to extend higher education opportunities for students to attend community colleges,” said Thomas Stith, president of the NC Community College System. “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.”


More Information on Longleaf:

Longleaf Grant Flyer

Questions about Longleaf Grant:
finaid@rockinghamcc.edu or 336-342-4261 ext. 2203

Questions about programs or applying to RCC:
admissions@rockinghamcc.edu or 336-342-4261 ext. 2333

Apply to RCC:


Rockingham Community College
215 Wrenn Memorial Rd.
Wentworth, NC 27375


Monday to Thursday:
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm


336-349-9986 (fax)