What Does it Really Cost to Attend the University of North Carolina?

 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a top contender for many high-achieving, college-bound students. As one of the best universities in the nation, UNC Chapel Hill regularly attracts students for its excellent research and study abroad opportunities as well as its beautiful natural surroundings and small-town atmosphere.

 

If your student has their heart set on UNC, you may be wondering how much it is going to cost your family to send your student there. We’re going to break down everything you need to know so that you can make an informed decision about UNC Chapel Hill’s affordability.

 

Why College Costs Are Highly Variable

 

As tempting as it is to scroll down to the list price below and take that as the cost of an education at UNC Chapel Hill, the truth is that college costs vary greatly from student to student. In fact, very few students pay the list price, so you’ll want to consider additional factors when estimating what your net cost will be, or the price that you’ll pay out of pocket.

 

We’ll provide the average net cost to families, but you’ll really want to look at how different factors will contribute to your student’s cost of an education. This includes factors like:

  • Whether your student will be considered in-state or out-of-state for tuition purposes;
  • If your student and your family qualify for need-based aid from the federal, state, or even local government;
  • If your student will receive institutional aid in the form of need-based or merit-based aid;
  • If your student is applying for any additional scholarships.

 

No matter your income level, there are ways that you and your student can make college more affordable. Understanding that the list price and average price may differ from your own, let’s look at how the above factors can reduce your family’s net cost.

 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s List Price

 

If you start to research the cost of a particular school, you’ll notice that they use the term “cost of attendance” to refer to the full cost of an education for one year. Although we call it the list price, the cost of attendance includes things like tuition and fees, room, board, and other miscellaneous costs of living. It’s an average of what their students pay, and a good starting point for knowing how expensive a school might be.

 

Because UNC Chapel Hill is a public institution, in-state students have a reduced tuition and fees cost compared to out-of-state students. During the 2016-2017 school year, the list price for in-state students was $24,898 while the list price for out-of-state students was $49,980.

 

Families that are considered high-income tend to pay full price, which usually means families with a household income over $175,000 a year. However, if a student is in the top 30% of admitted students at that institution, they may qualify for merit aid that reduces their net cost.

 

How Does Financial Aid Play into UNC’s Net Price?

 

We hope that you’re relieved to know that you aren’t likely to pay the full price of an education at any college. So with financial aid, how much can you expect to pay? Again, based on the 2016-2017 numbers, in-state students could expect to pay $21,209; out-of-state students could expect to pay $46,291.

 

Cost Based on Household Income

 

The averages above may seem high, and that’s due to the income distribution of the admitted students. However, for students with greater financial need, you can expect to pay less for an education. Here’s a breakdown of what a student could expect to pay based on household income:

 

Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $3,889
$30,001-$48,000 $6,306
$48,001-$75,000 $12,074
$75,001-$110,000 $18,954
Over $110,000 $23,197

 

How Much Merit Aid do UNC Students Receive?

 

Merit aid is usually offered to students on a need-blind basis, meaning that students of any income level can receive merit aid. Also, merit aid is generally offered to the top 30% of admitted students, although that varies depending on how selective the school is.

 

At UNC Chapel Hill, about 4.5% of students who don’t qualify for need-based aid receive some form of merit aid. The average merit aid award for a student without need was $470, which reduces the net cost for in-state students to $24,428 and out-of-state students to $49,510.

 

Although it may not be much, every bit helps, and there are some schools that don’t offer any merit aid. Due to its small average award size, UNC Chapel Hill ranked 841st in a pool of over 1000 schools we analyzed for merit aid generosity.

 

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How Many UNC Students Take Out Loans?

 

While loans can be a very useful way to cover the cost of education, less than a quarter of the students at UNC Chapel Hill take out a federal student loans—22% to be exact. The average size of the federal student loan per student was $2,569.

 

Student Outcomes at UNC Chapel Hill

 

Given the financial investment that you and your student are making, you may want to know if an education at UNC Chapel Hill will be worth it. Although the only person who can guarantee your student’s future is your student, knowing the graduation rate and average salary can put your mind at ease. UNC Chapel Hill has a six-year graduation rate of 90%, and the average salary for their alumni after ten years is $55,600.

 

Local Cost of Living Considerations

 

In addition to standard educational expenses, you may want to consider the general cost-of-living when helping your student decide on a college. Chapel Hill’s cost-of-living index is 130, meaning that it is 30% higher than the national average. Most of this is due to housing, which will be something to consider if your student is interested in living off-campus.

 

At UNC Chapel Hill, freshmen are required to live on-campus, but are allowed to move off-campus starting in their sophomore year of college. Although living on-campus has its benefits, many students eventually move off-campus to experience greater freedom, especially when it comes to cooking their own meals. Here are the average monthly rents for apartments in Chapel Hill:

  • 1 bedroom: $973
  • 2 bedroom: $1,143
  • 3 bedroom: $1,557

 

Other Ways to Save During College

 

One of the primary ways that your student can reduce the net cost to your family is by working. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the minimum wage in North Carolina is the same as the federal minimum wage at $7.25. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage earned across all occupations in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area is $28.53. Although it is unlikely that your student will be able to cover the complete cost of their education with a part-time job, it can certainly help cover some of their living expenses.

 

Another way that students of any income level can reduce the net cost of an education is to apply for private scholarships. These scholarships, which are hosted by nonprofit organizations and private corporations, often depend on a student’s merit, rather than their financial need, which means that students at any income level can make college more affordable.

 

For example, the prestigious National Merit Scholarship gives a substantial award to students who earn a top score on the PSAT. Even if a student doesn’t receive the Merit Scholar designation, many corporations and even some colleges will give merit scholarships to Commended Scholars, Semifinalists, and Finalists. If your student is entering their junior year this year, you should encourage them to take the PSAT seriously. Learn more in our post How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

 

Finally, although UNC Chapel Hill often considers applicants for certain scholarships automatically, there are a few that require separate applications. We encourage you to check out their full list of scholarships to see if there are any that your student might qualify for.

 

Wrapping It Up

 

Parents and students will need to work together to keep college costs down. By starting your research early, you and your student can find a combination of scholarships that will cover the remaining cost of attendance after need-based aid, reducing their need for a loan.

 

As a public institution, you may also want to look into how your student can go about qualifying for in-state tuition at UNC Chapel Hill after their first year of college. While your student would need to speak with a financial aid officer at their college to understand how it might impact their existing financial aid, it could save your family thousands of dollars each year.

 

If you’re looking for personalized guidance about college affordability, we’ve got you covered. As part of our College Applications Program, our Finances tool shows students the ROI of different schools and majors and help students identify scholarships to apply for. On average, our students earn about $83,000 in scholarships, which can cover the cost of a year of college at virtually any school. Find out if working with our Financial Aid Tools is right for your family!

 

For more information about UNC Chapel Hill and financial aid, check out these posts:

 

What Does It Take to Get into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill?

 

Parents: 12 Must-Know College Financial Aid Terms

 

FAFSA, CSS Profile, IDOC, Oh My: A Guide to Financial Aid

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Gianna Cifredo
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.