On Monday, both UNC and the town of Chapel Hill declared it "Anoop Desai Day".
The UNC Chapel Hill Alumni Association threw him a warm reception Monday evening at the Carolina Club, followed by a presentation in Chapel Hill where Desai was given a key to the city.
His parents told Eyewitness News they can't believe it.
"This honor, the town and UNC are giving to him, it's really overwhelming. But it is very sweet," Desai's mother Nalini Desai said.
Desai is putting the rest of his education on hold. He says he wants to use the momentum from American Idol and focus on his music career.