This story first published online at N.C. Policy Watch. 

Governor Roy Cooper has announced $51.4 million in new funding to help students access and complete postsecondary education as North Carolina recovers from the pandemic.

The funding is the state’s share of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund, federal dollars that aim to help school districts, postsecondary institutions, or other education-related entities address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bulk of the money—$44 million—will be earmarked to help students access college and earn degrees starting this fall. Another $5 million will support mental health initiatives at postsecondary institutions statewide. And $2.4 million will be used for equity-focused initiatives.

The Governor’s Office also is launching the Longleaf Commitment program, a $31.5 million investment to guarantee that graduating high school seniors from low- and middle-income families receive at least $2,800 in federal and state grants to cover tuition and most fees at any of the state’s 58 community colleges.

This program supplements the federal Pell grant and existing aid by providing an additional $700 to $2,800 grant per year for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years for students to earn an associate degree and/or credits to transfer to a four-year college. You can find additional details on how their students can apply for these grants at

The Longleaf Commitment program will also provide matching grants to help colleges expand student advising, success coaching, and related services.

“Students and educators across our state have faced challenges both inside and outside the classroom over the course of the pandemic,” Cooper said in a press release.

“The GEER funds will provide much needed relief for the state’s community colleges and universities, help us continue to build and grow a successful and diverse workforce and provide students equitable access to postsecondary education.”

Learn more about the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund and how the two federal relief packages are being spent here.