North Carolina community college students hit by an unexpected financial crunch could have a new option to help them complete their degree.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday he’s tapping into a federal program that could provide grants of up to $1,000 per semester for students close to finishing their degree or credential.

Cooper’s office says up to $7 million in federal funds will be available to help students beginning with the coming academic year. Cooper asked legislators to approve spending $20 million for similar efforts to also help state university and private college students, but that wasn’t approved.

Community colleges have the option to participate in the Finish Line Grants program. The schools and local workforce development boards will apply for funding and decide on how to handle funding requests.