The Carolina Covenant

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Teon Brooks, a former Carolina Covenant Scholar, prepares to observe the brain activity of his friend Matt Lowder, background, on the computer screen in his lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Teon Brooks, a former Carolina Covenant Scholar, prepares to observe the brain activity of his friend Matt Lowder, background, on the computer screen in his lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Carolina Covenant is part of Carolina’s commitment to making college possible for qualified students regardless of their financial means. Eligible low-income students who are admitted to Carolina can enroll without worrying about how they will pay for it. And, if they work 10 hours to 12 hours per week in a federal work-study job, they can graduate debt-free. The Carolina Covenant also includes academic and personal support services to help Covenant Scholars make the most of their college experience and succeed in completing their undergraduate degree program.

Since the day it was announced by then-Chancellor James Moeser, the Carolina Covenant has been embraced by the entire campus community. Students, faculty, administrators and departments across campus eagerly welcome Covenant Scholars and seek ways to help them succeed.

Carolina was the first major public U.S. university to announce plans for such a program in 2003. Since then, more than 90 similar programs have been established at public and private U.S. colleges and universities. Many of these programs, like Carolina’s, respond to rapidly changing demographics and social needs, such as rising high school dropout and poverty rates.

The Carolina Covenant enrolled its 10th class in fall 2013 with at least 649 new first-year and transfer students. Currently, an estimated 2,600 Covenant Scholars are studying at Carolina, and more than 4,600 students have benefited from the program since it began.

The Carolina Covenant helps close the four-year graduation gap between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers. University research has compared Covenant Scholars who enrolled in 2007 with a group of 2003 entering students who would have qualified for the program. Covenant students performed 15.1 percentage points better in four-year graduation rates (71.8 percent) than the comparison group.