Students deal with end of EARN program

Posted March 8, 2010

— Timyka Bolden’s son, Johnny, graduated from Knightdale High School last June and enrolled at Chowan University to major in graphic design.

“He was, of course, very excited when he got the letter saying he was accepted,” Bolden said.

Like many families, Bolden didn’t have the money to pay for college. The bill for Chowan is more than $27,000 a year. So, Bolden's son applied for need-based scholarships to help.

“They gave him a lot of grant money,” Bolden said.

Johnny also received the state-funded Education Access Rewards North Carolina Scholars Fund (EARN), which supplies $2,000 per semester to help reduce loan amounts for students.

EARN program ends; students seek funding EARN program ends; students seek funding

The state ran out of money for the EARN program after handing out funds in August 2009 for the fall semester. The program was canceled before Johnny's second semester at Chowan.

“In the middle of the year, they pull the carpet from under them. That's horrible that the state would pull the carpet from under these kids,” Bolden said.

Steven Brooks, executive director of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, said the end of the EARN program was “disappointing to everyone concerned.”

Students who lost EARN can check their colleges for extra grants and look into federal loans to make up the difference, Brooks said.

Bolden’s son had to take out a second loan to pay for school.

A General Assembly study committee is currently looking for ways to provide state-funded student aid.

“The EARN scholarship is an idea that I think a lot of us would like to see come back,” Brooks said.

Experts say there are many need-based scholarships and loans available for students. They say it is important for high school seniors to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, which is required to apply for need-based scholarship money that won’t have to be paid back.


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  • fuzzmom Mar 9, 2010

    pwpoe, if you look at the requirements for entry at Chowan and many other private schools, they are "much less" stringent that the state mandates for the UNC system. Nowadays, if you don't have the university-track diploma, you cannot go to any of the 16 UNC schools. Also, there are rules about minimum SAT scores and GPAs as well. So, this student may have chosen Chowan because he didn't have many other choices. Not to mention, although community college is always an option for "general college" courses, it is not always an option for certain fields, and graphic design is probably one of them. Not all community colleges offer the same courses.

  • Canery Mar 8, 2010

    I pay so much in taxes to pay for need base scholarships that I can not pay for my own kids to go to school. They have to take loans. Loans they have to pay back with interest! It needs to fair all around, all take loan or all is given grants. I am tired of paying for everyone else and my own kids getting shafted!

  • OHn8tive Mar 8, 2010

    I was also informed that my grant would not be renewed after this summer. They always state that funds are subject to availability. This was upfront, not in small print. Lesson to be learned: Have a plan B ready to go.

  • Mean Old Mom Mar 8, 2010

    Transfer to a cheaper school and save the state some money because NC is going broke a la California.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 8, 2010

    I feel bad for the taxpayers that have to pay for these people, plus those same taxpayers then have to go borrow money to pay for their own children.

  • Apex Man Mar 8, 2010

    Check out to look for financial aid.

  • pwpoe Mar 8, 2010

    I feel bad for this student and his family, but I suspect there were no guarantees about how long the money would last. The decision to attend a 4-year private school to attain a degree in graphic design was an unfortunate one, given the family's finances. Plenty of NC public universities and community colleges offer the design degree. This situation should serve as a heads-up to read the fine print and do the research when making a college choice.