In an effort to help remove financial barriers to getting the full Carolina experience, the Affordability Committee is planning to launch a pilot version of the Carolina Immersion Fund, a grant that allows students who qualify for financial aid to pay for any registered organizations they may be involved in at UNC. With the support of the Provost’s Office and the Parents Council, the Affordability Committee hopes to help these students make the most of their time at Carolina. The CIF is broken up into smaller grants for each applicant to cover things from membership fees, travel costs, uniform/costume expenses, and anything else a student in an organization may need to cover.
This grant was inspired by a similar program called Experience Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt University. The 2019-2020 academic year was the first year that the Affordability Committee decided to plan for such a grant at UNC. The committee hopes to launch its pilot version of the grant in January 2021, but logistics in future years will be different.
The Carolina Immersion Fund was initially known as ExperienceUNC. We have simply changed the name of it, but the concept is still the same!
To get the full experience at Carolina, each and every student takes classes, gets involved in organizations that speak to them, and immerses themselves in the Chapel Hill community. Sometimes, financial barriers for students keep them from getting involved in some of the organizations they care most about at UNC. Especially now, when many families have felt the devastating impacts of COVID-19, this grant is important to help students pursue their interests.
Any undergraduate student at UNC who qualifies for financial aid can apply for this grant.
We have received an initial grant of $5,000 from the Parents Council, with an additional $5,000 sourced from assorted donors. We are searching for future funding opportunities during the 2020-2021 academic year through further grants and alumni donations.
The Carolina Immersion Fund Application Committee will read the applications. This committee will consist of the two USG Affordability Committee Co-Chairs, two USG finance senator chairs, the two USG Executive Board Senior Advisors for the Affordability Committee, and the organizational treasurer. All members will be required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect the personal information of applicants.
Students will apply only with their PID. The list of PIDs will be sent to the Financial Aid Office, and they will verify that these PIDs match those of students who qualify for financial aid. Their applications will then be sent to the Carolina Immersion Fund Application Committee. All members of this committee will be required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. In the application, we will ask them to try to omit any names, including their own, when they write their application essay(s). If they must include any names in their application essay(s) that may indicate who they are, we request them to change the names. The CIF Application Committee will then decide who to distribute the money to. The logistics of distributing the money to students are still being planned with the Financial Aid Office, the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, and the Office of the Provost.
All applications will be evaluated with a standardized rubric created in collaboration between the Dean of Students Office and the Affordability Committee.
The minimum amount of funding a student can receive will be $50, and the maximum amount will be $200. If money is left over from the first round of applications in the fall semester, there will be a second round of applications in the spring semester.
Yes! This is an initiative of the Affordability Committee of the Executive Branch in the UNC Undergraduate Student Government. The idea for the pilot version of the grant was formulated by some of the members of the Martin Administration Affordability Committee (Dede Benissan, Ekta Deshmukh, Karun Prasanna, and Sarah Cook) in 2019. Now, with the Moseley Administration, the Affordability Committee CIF subcommittee (Ekta Deshmukh, Collyn Smith, Karun Prasanna, David Burriss, and Maanya Cheekati) is planning to launch this initiative with the help of administration.
In Fall 2020, we will publicize the grant to the student body. In January 2021, the application will go live. Students will then have two weeks to apply. After that, the Application Committee will have roughly 2-3 weeks to read applications and make their decisions. Then, the money will be distributed to students who receive the grant by late February. This timeline will be replicated in both the fall and spring semesters in future years.
We are working with the Office of the Provost to find future funding opportunities. We plan on presenting this initiative to the Board of Visitors in September 2020 as well to get more funding for the future. This program has been highly successful at other institutions like Vanderbilt, and we can see it becoming a big part of what Carolina stands for. We are also planning for a growing future applicant pool/the number of applications coming in increasing.
We will be creating a listserv for interested parties to stay involved. There will be a google form on our website (affordability.web.unc.edu) soon to enter contact information so that we can reach you. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact both of the Affordability Co-Chairs at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.