Reminder: March 1 deadline for Golden LEAF Colleges and Universities Scholarship applications | Eastern North Carolina Now

Press Release:

    The March 1, 2023 deadline is fast approaching for the Golden LEAF Colleges and Universities Scholarship. Information and the application for the 2023-2024 school year is available at A total of 215 awards will be offered to high school seniors and community college transfer students from qualifying rural North Carolina counties attending participating North Carolina colleges and universities.

    Scholarships are worth $14,000 ($3,500 per year for up to four years) for high school seniors and $3,500 per year for up to three years for community college transfer students attending a participating college in the fall.

    "The Golden LEAF Scholarship Program is a component of Golden LEAF's strategy to help rural communities thrive by creating a future generation of skilled, educated workers to come back home to live, work, and raise families," said Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton.

    To be eligible, students must be a graduating North Carolina high school senior or a currently enrolled North Carolina community college transfer student, enrolling full-time in the fall at a participating North Carolina public or private college or university. Recipients are selected based upon multiple factors including an intent to return to a rural North Carolina county after graduation. Applicants must also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and demonstrate financial need as determined by the application process; have a cumulative GPA of no less than 2.5; and be a resident of a rural, economically distressed North Carolina county. Click here for the full list of eligible counties.

    Scholarship recipients may also apply for the Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative. The Rural Internship Initiative provides Golden LEAF Scholars with professional work experience related to their career field in a rural North Carolina community. The Golden LEAF Foundation provides funding to pay interns $15/hour for up to 400 hours of work. Internships take place over 8-10 weeks, between June and August.

    Meet some of the Golden LEAF Scholarship alumni who are living and working in rural North Carolina communities.

    Samantha Bowen of Stokes County received the Golden LEAF Scholarship to attend UNC-Chapel Hill from 2014-2018. She majored in History with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. She moved back home and is now a high school science teacher at Stokes County Schools.

    Bowen said her internship experiences were instrumental in her decision to move home to live and work.

    "I probably would not have chosen to live or work in a rural area had it not been for my Golden LEAF internships," said Bowen. "My first job out of college was at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. While I enjoyed living and working in the Chapel Hill/Durham area, I missed the sense of community that I had felt with my neighbors and coworkers when completing my summer internships in my home county. After about six months in this position, I decided to move back to Stokes County and pursue a career in teaching. I love working in my rural community because of the close relationships that I am able to build with the people I work with."

    She wants students to know that the Golden LEAF Scholarship provides more than just funds for college.

    "I had exciting and rewarding opportunities through the Golden LEAF Scholarship," said Bowen. "I learned so much about myself and my professional goals. I was also able to make valuable connections with other leaders in my community, which helped me when I was applying for jobs after graduation."

    Nicole Flores Bautista is from Robeson County and attended UNC-Greensboro from 2018-2020 studying Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Sociology. She moved home to live and work at Southeastern Family Violence Center as a victim advocate.

    Bautista appreciates being able to attend college and graduate without student loans, thanks to the Golden LEAF Scholarship.

    "Take advantage of the scholarship and the program benefits of being a Golden LEAF Scholar," said Bautista. "It was a great opportunity for me being a first-generation college student not to have such a burden with financing my education and being able to focus on my education. I graduated debt-free!"

    Bautista was able to find her first full time job out of college through her internship as a Golden LEAF Scholar.

    "My internship experience did help me to decide to work in a rural area," said Bautista. "My internship eventually turned out to be my current full-time position. Every day I am learning at my job and in my rural area what services and resources are missing and are in need."

    For more information about the Golden LEAF Colleges and Universities Scholarship, click here.
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