RCCC gets Finish Line grants to help students complete education

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 19, 2019

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is participating in the statewide Finish Line Grant program, helping identify and assist students whose education goals may be at risk because of financial emergencies.

The college is working with the Centralina Workforce Development Board to provide emergency funds for students who face unexpected life challenges that threaten to derail their program completion.

“We know that many of our students are juggling work, family and school, and life sometimes throws them a curve,” said college President Carol S. Spalding. “When we can offer resources to help them clear a hurdle and continue their education, everyone wins — the student, the college and the community.”

Since Gov. Roy Cooper announced the program in the summer of 2018, Finish Line Grant initiatives have been launched at all 58 North Carolina community colleges in partnership with local workforce development boards. The grants have helped more than 1,700 college students complete training and education, with more than $1.1 million in assistance awarded.

Eva Nicholson knows firsthand the difference a Finish Line Grant can make. She balanced academic life at Rowan-Cabarrus with family and the demanding role of Student Government Association president, which required frequent travel among the college’s five campuses.

With worn tires on her truck and medical bills that had mounted as she battled and beat cancer, she feared the time would soon come that she would be unable to pay her tuition and complete her degree.

A Finish Line Grant gave her money to help with medical bills and also paid for new tires, alleviating enough financial burden that she was able to graduate in May with an associate in arts degree.

“I was so thankful. The grant alleviated some of my stress and made it possible for me to stay on track,” said Nicholson, who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at a four-year university. “I had worked hard, and I would have been devastated if I hadn’t been able to make it through to graduation.”

Nicholson and fellow Rowan-Cabarrus student Charles White have helped spread the word by participating in Awake58 Fellows, a group of community college students, many of them Finish Line Grant recipients, who work to create awareness of the program. They encourage peers to apply for grants and serve as resources for faculty, staff and others to ensure that as many students as possible can benefit.

To apply for a Finish Line Grant, a student must have a 2.0 or higher grade point average, have completed at least 50% of their program of study, and be a U.S. citizen. A student may be awarded up to $1,000 per semester to be used to pay for course materials, housing, medical costs, child care and other emergencies.

The Finish Line Grant program is part of Cooper’s N.C. Job Ready initiative, which focuses on education, workforce development and employment, and local innovation.

To learn more about the Finish Line Grant program, call 704-216- RCCC (7222) and ask to speak with a financial aid adviser.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit www.rccc.edu/apply or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).