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The Ultimate Guide to Applying to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What’s Covered:

 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—more simply referred to as UNC or Carolina—is the flagship school of the University of North Carolina system and the oldest public university in the nation. UNC was founded in 1789 and was the only public university to award degrees in the 18th century. UNC is known for both its top-notch academics and athletics—CollegeVine ranks it as the second-best public university in the nation while it’s won 47 NCAA Division I team national championships and 52 individual national championships. 

 

Average Stats of Accepted UNC Students

 

It should come as no surprise that students accepted at UNC have performed exceptionally well both in the classroom and on standardized tests. 

 

  • Average GPA and rank: 4.42 and 74% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class 
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1330-1500/29-34

 

Carolina is practicing test-optional admissions through fall 2024. This means students aren’t required to submit standardized test scores as part of their application. However, it’s generally considered a smart strategy to submit standardized test scores if they fall within the middle 50% range, especially if they’re on the high end of the spectrum.   

 

Academics are just one part of the equation of gaining admittance to Carolina and great grades and strong test scores don’t guarantee admissions. Failing to meet UNC’s academic benchmarks may disqualify an applicant for admission. Highly selective schools like UNC screen out applicants they deem scholastically unqualified using a tool known as the Academic Index—a single numerical score that summarizes an applicant’s entire academic performance.  

 

UNC College Application Process

 

Planning to apply to UNC? Here’s what to expect from the application process.

 

Application Overview

 

Carolina accepts the Common Application. There is an $85 application fee at UNC, however, fee waivers are available through high school counselors for those who cannot afford the fee. 

 

There are two pathways to admission at UNC: early action (EA) and regular decision. EA is non-binding and applicants do not need to commit to UNC until May 1, the same date as RD applicants. The UNC application deadlines are:

 

Application Path 

Application Deadline

Early Action 

October 15 

Regular Decision 

January 15

 

Carolina has an acceptance rate of 19.24%. UNC doesn’t publish their early action acceptance rate, but, typically the acceptance rate for EA applicants is higher than those that apply RD. 

 

Application Components

 

  • Letter of recommendation 
  • Official transcript
  • School report
  • Short-answer questions (2)
  • Fill-in-the-blank responses (5)
  • SAT/ACT scores (optional) 

 

Supplemental Essays: In addition to the Common Application essay, UNC applicants are also required to complete two short-answer questions. Applicants are provided four prompts and are asked to respond to two (in 200-250 words). The short-answer prompts are: 

 

  • Prompt 1: Describe an aspect of your identity and how this has shaped your life experiences or impacted your daily interactions with others?
  • Prompt 2: Describe a peer who is making a difference in your school or community. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?
  • Prompt 3: If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Please explain.
  • Prompt 4: Former UNC-Chapel Hill employee, community service member, and civil rights activist Esphur Foster once said “We are nothing without our history.” How does history shape who you are?

 

Fill-in-the-Blank Questions: UNC applicants are also asked to complete five fill-in-the-blank questions (25 words or less). The fill-in-the-blank prompts are:

 

  • One family, friend, or school tradition I cherish…
  • If I had an extra hour in every day, I would spend it…
  • If I could travel anywhere, near or far, past, present or future, I would go…
  • The last time I stepped outside my comfort zone, I…
  • People who meet me are most likely to notice…and least likely to notice…

 

Applicants intent on composing strategic and thoughtful essays that will grab the attention of admissions officers will want to read our article, How to Write the UNC Chapel Hill Essays 2022-2023, which provides advice on how to handle all of the UNC short-answer and fill-in-the-blank questions. Applicants who’ve already begun composing their responses can get free feedback from other students or paid expert feedback using CollegeVine Essay Review.

 

Residency Verification: North Carolina residents are required to verify their residency, which they can do through the North Carolina Residency Determination Services.

 

When Will You Hear Back?

 

Students who apply for early action at Carolina will receive notification by January 31 and those who apply for regular decision will hear back by March 31. Both EA and RD applicants have until May 1 to make an enrollment decision.  

 

Application Path 

Application Notification 

Early Action  

January 31  

Regular Decision 

March 31

 

UNC College Financial Aid

 

As a public university, UNC is cheaper for North Carolina residents than it is for those from out of state. In fact, the sticker price for out-of-state students is more than double that of in-state students.

 

Financial Aid Generosity

 

The sticker price of UNC for in-state students is $25,258. For out-of-state students, the sticker price is $54,352. UNC offers undergraduates fixed tuition—meaning their tuition rates will not increase over their first eight consecutive semesters of enrollment.

 

In-state UNC students can expect to pay:

 

Expense 

Cost 

Tuition

$7,020

Fees

$1,978

Housing 

$7,014

Meals

$5,240

Books and supplies  

$1,290

Travel 

$840

Loan Fees

$56

Personal 

$1,820

Total

$25,258

 

Out-of-state UNC students can expect to pay:

 

Expense 

Cost 

Tuition

$35,580

Fees

$1,978

Housing 

$7,014

Meals

$5,240

Books and supplies  

$1,290

Travel 

$1,374

Loan Fees

$56

Personal 

$1,820

Total

$54,352

 

Carolina is one of the few public flagship universities that practices need-blind admissions, meaning they don’t consider an applicant’s financial situation when making admissions decisions. UNC will meet 100% of demonstrated need of its undergraduates. More than two-thirds of Carolina’s undergrads have their financial need met with grants and scholarships. The average debt of graduating Carolina students is 32% below the national average. 

 

Carolina offers merit scholarships to students based on a number of factors, including academic achievement, leadership qualities, commitment to service, and potential for success. More than 10% of all Carolina undergraduates are Carolina Covenant Scholars—a program for students from low-income families that enables them to graduate debt free through a combination of grants, scholarships, and work-study jobs.

 

Want to learn more about what it costs to attend UNC? Check out our article, What Does it Really Cost to Attend the University of North Carolina?

 

How to Apply for Financial Aid

 

UNC applicants applying for federal aid will need to fill out a FAFSA, while a CSS Profile is required to qualify for need-based university grants and scholarships. The deadline to submit both the FAFSA and CSS profile is March 1. 

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

UNC is known for its competitive admissions, but the odds of getting into this super-selective school vary from applicant to applicant. CollegeVine can help applicants better understand their odds of admission at Carolina along with hundreds of other colleges and universities across the nation. Our free Chancing Engine uses factors like academics, extracurriculars, and demographics to estimate your individual odds of admission at UNC and provide valuable insight into improving your profile!

 

Learn more about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including its diversity, the majors offered, and how long your application should take.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.