The Longleaf grant has changed my life. It has not only helped me out [financially]—but has also motivated me to keep doing better in school. And now I’ll have my associate degree in a year and a half.

Alan Hidalgo-Lobo

Student at Central Piedmont Community College

When Alan Hidalgo-Lobo was in high school his dad passed away. After his death, Alan struggled to manage both life and school, and as a result, didn’t have enough credits to graduate senior year. Instead, he watched his classmates walk the stage while he sat in the crowd. “I felt discouraged to go back to school…I essentially gave up. I felt like life was over,” Alan recalled.

But knowing he wanted to make himself and his family proud, Alan eventually signed up for the GED—and without any preparation—passed the test. Shortly after that, Alan heard about the Longleaf Commitment Grant, which can cover the full cost of tuition for up to two years at any NC Community College. He applied by filling out the FAFSA, hoping to join the more than 11,000 recent North Carolina graduates who have received the award so far. Three weeks later, Alan was starting summer courses at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) with his tuition fully paid for as well as help covering textbooks, fees and transportation costs.

“It’s a very smooth process—very self-explanatory,” Alan noted about applying for the grant, which he also received for the fall 2021 semester. “The Longleaf grant has changed my life. It has not only helped me out [financially]—but has also motivated me to keep doing better in school. And now I’ll have my associate degree in a year and a half.” After that, Alan plans on transferring to UNC Charlotte before ultimately attending NCCU to become a criminal defense and immigration lawyer.

Suddenly, Alan reaches for a black North Face backpack. “I bought this before I started my education again as a reminder. I told myself, I’m going to go back to school and accomplish something. I bought this bookbag because I manifested it,” Alan stated proudly.

Now 24, Alan juggles a part-time job and a full-time course load, in addition to being a caretaker to his mother and two dogs. “Without the grant, I would’ve had to work full time—over 40 hours—and I wouldn’t have been able to graduate early. The grant has made things so much easier for me. It removes a lot of the pressure. Without it, things would be really hard.”

Let’s find the right path for you.

Answer a few questions to see what your best route to getting hired might be.

Have you completed high school or an equivalent?

Nope. I’ve got a few years left.

Do you want to work toward earning a degree?

Yep.

All signs point to you getting a head start on your higher education while you’re still in high school.

That’s because the Career & College Promise program allows you to have duel enrollment, so you can work on both at the same time. And since this program is also tuition free, it’s a real money-saver.

Maybe.

All signs point to you getting a head start on your higher education while you’re still in high school.

That’s because the Career & College Promise program allows you to have duel enrollment, so you can work on both at the same time. And since this program is also tuition free, it’s a real money-saver.

Nope.

Your answers suggest on-the-job learning might be a great way to get your foot in the door.

This type of training combines hands-on learning with related classroom instruction. Apprentices earn money while learning a highly-skilled trade from an employer. State and federal certificates as well as other credentials can also be completed through an apprenticeship.

No.

How do you see community college benefitting you?

By helping me grow my skills.

Looks like your top priority is getting the skills you need fast—so you can land a good job quickly.

Short-term training, sometimes called continuing education, comes in various forms and are all focused on helping you gain the real-world skills you need to get into—or move up in—a number of fields. These courses often lead to state licensure or a certificate upon completion.

By preparing me to start a new career.

Your answers suggest on-the-job learning might be a great way to get your foot in the door.

This type of training combines hands-on learning with related classroom instruction. Apprentices earn money while learning a highly-skilled trade from an employer. State and federal certificates as well as other credentials can also be completed through an apprenticeship.

Yes. (Or at least, I will soon.)

Are you interested in earning college credit?

Yes, definitely.

Which way do you prefer to learn?

Virtually or physically, being part of a class works for me.

How much time are you willing to spend getting an education?

Two years, tops. I’m trying to get done and get a job ASAP.

Seems like you want the opportunities that come with a degree, but in half the time of a bachelor’s. 

Associate degrees are perfect for that. They can give you a big advantage over many non-degree holders in the job market—and open up even more potential positions that were previously out of reach. You’ll have relevant skills employers want in about two years.

I could do four—or more.

Great! Sounds like you plan on using community college as a stepping stone to a four-year university.

Like any associate degree, transfer degrees take about two years to complete—but this one includes general education credits that are easily transferable. It counts the same as having completed two years toward a bachelor’s degree.

I learn best by being hands-on. Just show me how to do it.

Your answers suggest on-the-job learning might be a great way to get your foot in the door.

This type of training combines hands-on learning with related classroom instruction. Apprentices earn money while learning a highly-skilled trade from an employer. State and federal certificates as well as other credentials can also be completed through an apprenticeship.

Nope, I don’t need it.

How do you see community college benefitting you?

By helping me grow my skills.

Looks like your top priority is getting the skills you need fast—so you can land a good job quickly.

Short-term training, sometimes called continuing education, comes in various forms and are all focused on helping you gain the real-world skills you need to get into—or move up in—a number of fields. These courses often lead to state licensure or a certificate upon completion.

 

By preparing me to start a new career.

Looks like your top priority is gaining real-world skills—either through on-the-job learning or continuing education.

Short-term training or an apprenticeship can help you gain the specific skills you need to get into—or move up in—a number of fields. Certificates, licensure and other credentials can be completed through these programs via hands-on learning and/or classroom instruction.