The March 1, 2021 deadline is fast approaching for the four-year Golden LEAF Scholarship Program. Information and the application for the 2021-2022 school year is available at CFNC.org. 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 four-year North Carolina colleges and universities.

Scholarships are worth $12,000 ($3,000 per year for up to four years) for high school seniors and $3,000 per year for up to three years for community college transfer students attending a participating college in the fall.

The Golden LEAF Scholarship program has helped more than 5,600 rural students attend the state’s colleges and universities since it began 20 years ago.

“This 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.

Joseph Brake of Nash County is a junior attending Fayetteville State University studying social work. He is proud to be a part of a program that is providing the financial support he needs to earn his degree.

“This scholarship has helped me by allowing me to focus on my academics without having to worry about having to pay for my education,” said Brake. “Because of the scholarship, I was able to maintain a 3.5 GPA while also being a part of various organizations. I’m truly proud to be a part of the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program.”

After graduation, Brake plans to attend graduate school to study social work and then return to Nash County and teach social work classes at a two-year college. He also wants to manage a chapter of the Made Men Mentoring Program.

Taylor Tucker Lugo of Washington County is also a proud Golden LEAF Scholarship recipient. She is a senior at the University of Mount Olive studying criminology.

“The Golden LEAF Scholarship has been an absolute blessing in my educational journey,” said Lugo. “With this scholarship, I was the first generation able to attend college in my family. I am currently a 9-1-1 dispatcher and volunteer firefighter. I plan to add on my first responder skills with criminal profiling. Thank you, Golden LEAF, for giving me a life changing opportunity.”

Recipients are selected based upon multiple factors including an interest in returning to a rural community 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 GPA of no less than 3.0; and be a resident of a rural county that is economically distressed and/or tobacco dependent for at least 10 years. Click here for the full list of eligible counties.