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Gov. Cooper Asks For More Emergency Grants For College Students

Michael Falero
Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at CPCC about expanding grants for students at community colleges.

Gov. Roy Cooper called on the General Assembly on Tuesday to expand grants for students at community colleges and universities who face acute financial difficulties.

Cooper spoke at an event at Central Piedmont Community College on Tuesday afternoon, where the "Finish Line" grant program began in 2018. The program gives eligible community college students up to $1,000 per semester, for a maximum of two semesters. The grants can cover expenses like rent, car repairs, or books.

Cooper and CPCC administrators said the goal is to help students finish their degrees on time.

"And it is amazing how a relatively small amount of money can make a big difference in the life of a student who is trying really hard, and who is living on the edge, and is having to pay the tuition and fees to try and better themselves," Cooper said. "This helps them get over the hump." 

CPCC graduates Lexine Merrill and David Florez, who received Finish Line grants, spoke at the event about the expenses they faced and how the grants helped them continue their education and finish their degree. CPCC President Kandi Deitemeyer said the college had provided $167,266 to 149 students since the Finish Line grant program began two years ago.

Gov. Cooper also announced his administration has funded more than 3,000 grants for students at community colleges around the state since the program began. Currently, the Finish Line program uses $7 million in federal money from the Department of Labor, and it only applies to community college students, not university students.

Cooper had included $20 million in funding in his budgets for 2018 and 2019, but legislators removed it. He said he hoped legislators saw the benefits the program had for both students and businesses who need to fill jobs with college graduates.