Paying for College

  • Senior Meetings:  We host senior meetings and a senior parent night for students and parents, respectively, early in the fall, where we discuss planning, applying, and paying for college.  If you are a senior and have not met with your counselor yet, contact him or her!'s Pay section is a terrific resource for this topic, and we will reference that website often.  We also highly recommend visiting the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid site.

    Before we get to financial aid, there is also overall financial literacy, or understanding how to manage your money.  This is not only a vital part of paying for college, but also a real-world competency essential to sound and successful living.  CFNC has a wonderful section on financial literacy found here, including this flyer.  You can also explore any of these helpful sites:, and

    Don't Get Scammed: Financial aid and scholarship information is free.  Don't ever pay for information or to complete financial aid forms.  Also, be sure to file your FAFSA through the official site (NOT

    ***SENIORS:  SEE and view this flyer for more information on FAFSA Day.  This critically important financial aid form will now be available to complete on October 1st, and students and parents can create their required FSA IDs beforehand at***

    Undocumented students should see their school counselor to further discuss financial aid options.


    Personal and Family Earnings and Savings

    Your family's earnings and savings can be one component of how you pay for college.  You may want to read up on Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and NC 529 Plans - two great investment opportunities to help families save for college.


    There are also tax benefits to help save for college education.

    In addition to all the information provided through the above link, tax benefits include the aforementioned state 529 Plans, which are tax-sheltered and can qualify some individuals for tax deductions.  More information on North Carolina's 529 Plan can be found here.


    Grants and Scholarships

    Undocumented students should see their school counselor to further discuss financial aid options.

    Grants and scholarships are money that you don't have to pay back.  Grants - along with loans, scholarships, and work-study opportunities - are awarded largely based on what is filed through your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

    Other than completing your FAFSA, scholarships should be researched a few different ways.  See our Scholarship Search Best Practices.



    Education loans must be repaid, so be sure to thoroughly understand your options and responsibilities for borrowing money to pay for college.  Do your research, and only borrow what you need.  Education Loan eligibility is largely determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Alternative or private loans should be a last resort for borrowing. CFNC's and the Department of Education'swebsites provide the best information on educational loans.

    North Carolina sponsors Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS), which offer forgivable loans to students in eligible degree programs who pursue approved positions/careers.  This is a wonderful option for eligible and interested students.


    Part-time Work while in School

    On-campus work and off-campus work are also good ways to help pay for college; however, students must be careful and maintain a manageable balance of part-time work and academics.  In addition, some schools may be able to offer you a Federal Work-Study job as part of your financial aid award.  These official work-study opportunities are administered through participating schools' financial aid offices and are based on financial need determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


    Financial Aid via Military Service

     You may be able to get money for college based on your or your family members' military service.


    Additional Financial Aid Resources:

    • Early in the fall, we host invididual senior meetings where we discuss planning, applying, and paying for college.
    • We host a senior parent night every year, usually the night of Northern's Fall Open House, where we focus on paying for college
    • College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) usually hosts district-wide Financial Aid Workshops for all high school parents and students in Durham Public Schools.  Information will be shared about financial aid available in North Carolina and completing the FAFSA in a timely manner.
    • CFNC sponsors FAFSA Day in February each year.  This is a fantastic, free opportunity to get help completing your FAFSA from financial specialists and college aid professionals.  Students may view the FAFSA Day locations and register for the program by visiting by calling College Foundation of North Carolina, toll-free, at 866-866-CFNC (2362).
    • Check out the FAFSA website; the Federal Student Aid page on the FAFSA; reach out to FAFSA on Twitter and utilize #AskFAFSA.

    Check out this list of colleges that meet 100% of financial need (the difference between estimated family contributions and cost of attendance)