The Carolina Covenant Has Been Successful in Increasing Retention and Graduation Rates for Low-Income Students

In 2003 the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill introduced the Carolina Covenant program in which low-income students would have all their financial aid needs met by grants. Students work 10 to 12 hours a week at a college job but are able to graduate debt-free.

A new study by the university finds that students who have benefited from the Carolina Covenant have shown significant improvement in their graduation rates. The study found that students who enrolled in 2005 and received Carolina Covenant grants had a graduation rate that was 9.6 percentage points higher than students who enrolled in 2003, before the program was initiated, but who would have qualified for the program had it existed at that time.

This past fall, 558 new students received Carolina Covenant funds. They constituted more than 11 percent of the incoming class. Currently, there are 2,200 undergraduate students on campus who are part of the program.