FAQ NC 529 Plan

When should I apply to college?

Most colleges begin accepting applications about a year in advance of when you want to enroll. For high school students, it’s best to apply in the fall of your senior year. Your sophomore and junior years are the best time for researching colleges and planning when you’ll need to take admission tests such as the SAT and ACT. Check out this list of North Carolina college admission deadlines.

What are the admissions requirements for North Carolina colleges?

It varies depending upon the type of college you choose. Check out College Admissions Requirements on CFNC.org for details.

What college admission test do I need to take?

It varies depending upon your college choice. North Carolina community colleges do not require you to take the SAT or ACT, but you may use your scores as part of their required placement testing process. Most four-year colleges accept either the SAT or ACT. If they have a preference or a required minimum, they will have it listed on their admissions website. You can search North Carolina colleges on CFNC.org and easily get to their websites. Some colleges accept a portfolio instead of admission test scores. Find more details in the CFNC publication “College Entrance Tests” here.

What do colleges look for when considering applicants?

According to a recent survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, here are the top 10 factors colleges said had considerable importance in admitting students:

  1. Grades in college prep courses
  2. Strength of curriculum (courses)
  3. Admission test scores (such as SAT and ACT)
  4. Grades in all courses
  5. Essay or writing sample
  6. Student’s demonstrated interest
  7. Counselor recommendation
  8. Class rank
  9. Teacher recommendation
  10. Extracurricular activities

Can I use CFNC.org to send a transcript even if I didn’t use CFNC.org to apply?

Yes, if you are at a North Carolina public high school, you can send your official high school transcript electronically to any North Carolina college regardless of whether you applied using a CFNC.org application. Just go to the Application Hub to get started.

How do I decide which colleges to apply to?

You’ll want to do a lot of research, talk to people like your parents and school counselor, also ask friends who are already enrolled what they looked for in a college, and maybe what they particularly like about their college. Consider your most likely career path/major and visit some colleges to narrow down your choices. Part of your research should include how well your academic credentials match up with the school’s average range. Pick a few match schools (schools where your qualifications fall well within the range), a few safety schools (schools where you exceed the average), and a few reach schools (ones for which you’re qualified, but on the lower end of the average) to apply to. Read more in Finding the Right College for You.

How many places should I apply?

Counselors often recommend picking five colleges, but there is no hard and fast rule for deciding how many applications to send—just do some solid research and make sure you only pick colleges you would be happy attending.

Should I apply to schools that are expensive if I don’t have a lot of money?

A lot of “expensive” schools offer generous financial aid and scholarship opportunities, making their net cost much more affordable. Apply and see what they offer you, then carefully compare all your options and decide. Also take a look at online net price calculators that let you see what families with incomes similar to yours recently paid at that college; CFNC.org has a list of links for North Carolina here.

What online application should I use?

The admissions website for each college is a great place to start. The admissions office will provide a link to their preferred online application(s). If you are going to a North Carolina college and your college lists CFNC.org as an option, that’s a helpful choice since the CFNC Application Hub allows you to track all your online applications and transcripts in a single place. Currently, about 100  North Carolina colleges use the CFNC online application.

What if I don’t get accepted?

The most important thing to remember is that there are many colleges where you can enroll and be successful. In the end, it’s what you decide to make of college that matters most. It’s often helpful to choose several colleges to apply to (including a safe choice) that you know are a good match for you. If you find yourself in the spring of your senior year without having been accepted,talk to your school counselor and try the College Redirection Tool on CFNC.org for assistance with getting matched to a great college option.