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.
Student at UNC Charlotte
Central Piedmont Community College Grad
When Alan Hidalgo-Lobo was in middle school his dad passed away. For years 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.”