UPDATED: Carolina welcomes 4,254 new undergraduate students

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Carolina welcomes 4,254 new undergraduate students


Fall 2016 first-year class includes increases in North Carolinians and African Americans


(Note: The following statistics are preliminary and will not be final until after Aug. 31, 2016, the University’s official enrollment reporting date. A final profile of the undergraduate classes will be available in late September.)


(Chapel Hill, N.C.— Aug. 20, 2016) – The 4,254 first-year students expected to start classes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill next week were chosen from 35,875 applicants. An additional 779 students are joining the Carolina community as transfer students.


The new first-year class includes 3,523 North Carolinians, an increase of 7.6 percent over last year’s class.


The 35,875 first-year applicants represent a 12 percent increase over last year and set an 11th consecutive record.


“We’re glad and grateful that these outstanding students have chosen UNC-Chapel Hill,” said Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “We’re especially grateful for the strong response from talented students from North Carolina, more of whom will be enrolling here than ever before. These young people will stand beside terrific students from outside our state and beyond to make us all better. From their hard work in the classroom to their contributions in their communities to their diversity of background and perspective, these students are truly inspiring.”


Undergraduate students entering this fall include veterans, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and writers, as well as champion student-athletes and community activists. Specific accomplishments include:

  • Serving in the U.S. Army as an Apache Pilot in Command (Chief Warrant Officer Two) in Afghanistan;
  • Earning a scholarship through the U.S. Navy for the prestigious Navy Seaman to Admiral program;
  • Winning championships in soccer, swimming, basketball, football, equitation and track—including a gold medal in hurdling for Team USA in the International Association of Athletics Federations competition in Poland;
  • Achieving on the highest level in the arts—writing, music, dance and drama;
  • Conducting research on chemotherapy at the University of Texas; bone marrow transplants at Duke University; epigenetics at East Carolina University; and sea turtle nests for the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment;
  • Working with the National Climate Data Center to produce 3-D plots of snowfall record to validate accuracy of data and better manage disaster relief funding;
  • Inventing a mechanized walker as part of a team for the Pennsylvania Governor’s STEM Challenge that won first in state prize;
  • Developing Yoga4Nepal, a non-profit website to raise money for those affected by the earthquake in Nepal in April 2015;
  • Co-founding EZ World LLC and Soccertalk.net blog, creating and implementing business plans and social media marketing strategies;
  • Founding a company that manufactures and distributes tie-dyed socks;
  • Starting a business to build play sets and remodel bedrooms for children battling cancer;
  • Creating a YouTube channel featuring reviews of various technologies with over 12.5 million views and 100,000 subscribers;
  • Increasing support and awareness of LGTBQ issues in schools and communities;
  • Being named the youngest female glider pilot in North Carolina at age 14;
  • Cycling 500 miles across Spain.


Academic credentials

The University considers every candidate for undergraduate admission individually, holistically and comprehensively. These individual evaluations, taken together, do not aim to maximize any single, narrow outcome. Rather, they aim to draw together students who will enrich each other’s education, strengthen the campus community, contribute to the betterment of society and help the University achieve its broader mission. As a result, the statistics that follow are best understood as a description of the entire enrolling class, not as a prescription of the credentials that every candidate must present.


Among the 71 percent of the class whose schools reported an official rank in class, 43 percent ranked within the top 10 students in their high school class. Thirteen percent ranked first or second, and 77 percent ranked in the top 10 percent.


The middle 50 percent of the class scored between 1,790 and 2,110 on the SAT and between 1,210 and 1,420 on the critical reading and math sections combined. The middle 50 percent scored the following ranges on each component: 600-700, critical reading; 610-720, math; and 580-690, writing. For enrolling students who reported ACT scores, the middle 50 percent reported scores between 28 and 33.


In evaluating candidates, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions uses the highest score presented by each candidate on each part of the SAT reasoning and on each subject test of the ACT. When a candidate submits results from both the SAT and the ACT, the admissions office uses the test with the stronger results.


Seventy-seven percent of enrolling students reported submitting at least one AP score. They submitted a total of 22,595 scores. Of these, 19,121 were scores of three or higher. Enrolling students submitted 1,038 scores from IB exams.



Enrolling first-year students hail from 96 North Carolina counties, 41 states and the District of Columbia and 18 countries (including the U.S).


The share of students identifying themselves as a race or ethnicity other than Caucasian is 34 percent. In addition to students identifying as African American (11 percent), other ethnicities includes Latino or Latina, 7 percent; Asian or Asian-American, 14 percent; and American Indian or Alaskan Native, two percent.


Students who will be the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college or university comprise 17 percent of the class. The class includes 96 international students.


Females comprise 60 percent of the incoming first-year class, men 40 percent.


The class also includes 202 students (five percent of the enrolling class) from one of the 64 partner high schools served in 2015-2016 by the Carolina College Advising Corps, a public service of the University that seeks to increase college-going rates among low-income, first-generation college and other underrepresented students. The Carolina Corps, a constituent program of the national College Advising Corps, places recent UNC-Chapel Hill alumni as admissions and financial-aid advisers in high schools statewide. The Carolina Corps will serve 71 high schools and more than 55,000 students (over 12,000 high school seniors) in 2016-2017. These numbers include 19 percent of the state’s African American students; 13 percent of Hispanic students; and 33 percent of Native American students.


Aid and scholarships

Thirty-nine percent of the incoming class will receive need-based aid, primarily in the form of grants and scholarships. Just over five percent will receive merit-based aid, including summer fellowships offered through Excel@Carolina, which connects top students with unique opportunities at Carolina.


Carolina Covenant Scholars, students from low-income backgrounds who earned a place at UNC-Chapel Hill and will have the opportunity to graduate debt-free, make up 13 percent of the new first-year and transfer students. The Covenant program offers a combination of grants and work-study funding, along with academic and personal support services, to help scholars make the most of their Carolina experience while working toward an on-time, debt-free graduation.


The Covenant has helped close the graduation gap between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers. Since the launch of the Covenant in 2004, four-year graduation rates among eligible students have risen by 23.7 percentage points, making Carolina a national leader in student success and economic diversity.


The University has led Kiplinger’s list of best-value public universities for more than 15 years and ranks near the top of the New York Times’ list of colleges doing the most for low-income students. A combination of exceptionally low tuition for in-state students and strong financial aid for all students helps keep Carolina affordable, regardless of family income. Only two-in-five students graduate with any federal debt, and the average loan amount among borrowers is more than $10,000 below the national level.


All aid statistics are preliminary and subject to revision.


Extracurricular achievements

  • 92 percent participated in community service;
  • 71 percent played a sport;
  • 62 percent contributed to a cause they believe in;
  • 62 percent pursued an independent hobby;
  • 49 percent participated in music, drama or other arts;
  • 48 percent held a position as president of their class or a club;
  • 22 percent conducted research outside the classroom;
  • 51 percent traveled outside their home country;
  • 52 percent assumed daily family responsibilities;
  • 49 percent held a job during the school year;
  • 46 percent participated in religious or faith-based communities;
  • 34 percent participated in student government.



For fall 2016 first-year admission, the University received 35,875 applications—12 percent more than last year and 50 percent more than five years ago. The overall admit rate fell from 30 percent to 26 percent this year, and the number of North Carolinians offered admission rose 7 percent to 5,700 compared to 5,330 last year.


Applied / Admitted 

First-year class


                             Applied       Admitted
North Carolina     11,662        5,700
Out-of-state          24,213         3,698
Total                      35,875         9,398        

**These numbers reflect residency information at the time of application.


Transfer class

Each year UNC-Chapel Hill enrolls approximately 750 transfer students into the sophomore and junior classes in the College of Arts and Sciences. Transfer students bring a diversity of backgrounds and experiences that enrich Carolina, and the University community welcomes these students into the full academic and extracurricular life of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Applied Admitted
2,879 1,151

**These numbers reflect residency information at the time of application.

Average college GPA: 3.70


The middle 50 percent of the enrolling transfer class scored between 1,610 and 1,980 on the SAT and between 1,080 and 1,330 on the critical reading and math sections combined. The middle 50 percent scored the following ranges on each component: 530-660, critical reading; 550-670, math; and 530-650, writing.


Transfer demographics

Approximately 33 percent of the enrolling transfer class is transferring from a North Carolina community college. The top partner community colleges and universities are Durham Technical Community College, North Carolina State University, Wake Technical Community College, Miami Dade College, Appalachian State University and UNC-Charlotte.


Incoming transfer students range in age from 17 to 53. Of the 779 enrolling transfer students, 94 students are at least 24 years old.



Three hundred and twelve enrolling first-year students indicated an affiliation with the U.S. Armed Forces, primarily as a dependent with a parent who served or is serving in the military. Ninety-two transfer students indicated an affiliation with the military. Sixteen are currently serving and 20 have previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Sixty students are either the dependent or spouse of a current or prior service member. (Note: Some students qualify for multiple categories, i.e., many who served are also dependents.)




About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.


UNC-Chapel Hill Admissions contact: Stephen Farmer or Ashley Memory, (919) 843-2531, amemory@admissions.unc.edu

Communications and Public Affairs contact: MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090, mc.vangraafeiland@unc.edu