Last August, about a week before she planned to move into a residence hall and begin her freshman year at NC State, Kelsey Hassard sat in the university’s Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid crying. She was tearful, she said, because she was a little short on money to pay for her tuition.
“I had worked so hard to get to where I am today and make it into the university of my dreams, and all of that was about to be taken away from me,” Hassard said. “Whether or not I was going to college was never a question, but how I was going to pay for college always was.”
With assistance from the scholarships and financial aid staff, Hassard was able to pull together the remaining funds she needed to enroll. Now a sophomore working toward her bachelor’s degree in fashion and textile management, she was happy to learn that she would be in the first group of students receiving NC State’s Employee Dependent’s Tuition Scholarship this fall.
The new scholarship endowment – announced last October and seeded by a gift from Chancellor Randy Woodson and his wife, Susan – has distributed a quarter of a million dollars in tuition grants to 127 students for the 2016-17 academic year.
“Any and all help makes a huge impact. Students have to juggle a lot,” said Hassard, whose father, Richard, is employed at NC State as a general manager in Repair and Renovation Services. “Not only am I a full-time student, I work a part-time job, and am president of one of the largest clubs within the College of Textiles, Fashion Group. It’s often advertised as easy to pay for college through loans, but it’s rather difficult.
Incredible donors and scholarship opportunities here at NC State make my education possible and help me pursue my dreams.” –Kelsey Hassard
The first Employee Dependent’s Tuition Scholarship recipients are the children or dependents of 79 staff and 38 faculty members at the university; a few employees have more than one student enrolled and receiving a scholarship.
“For the first year, it has been really successful,” said Johanna Donovan, senior assistant director of scholarships in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, which administers the program. “The response has been great. We tried to publicize it through several avenues across campus and employees were thrilled.”
The Employee Dependent’s Tuition Scholarship currently is designed to provide scholarships of up to $2,000 per academic year ($1,000 awarded each semester), for a maximum of eight semesters, to all dependents of current full-time employees who have been successfully admitted to the university as first-degree undergraduate students and meet regular academic requirements. Family income and employee job function are not factors.
Applicants must meet other requirements. Their parent must have been a full-time employee of NC State for at least three years, for example, and the student must be enrolled for a full course load in a degree-seeking program.
Since their arrival at NC State in 2010, the Woodsons have championed the importance of philanthropy for the institution’s future. Their support of the scholarship endowment has been bolstered by gifts from 94 other donors, half of whom are current NC State staff or faculty members.
In order for the scholarship to be provided for current and future dependents in perpetuity, the endowment must reach a projected $30 million, according to Brian Sischo, vice chancellor for university advancement. Because officials could not predict the initial number of qualified applicants, some university funds helped supplement the program this year. As the program evolves, the value of the award might be adjusted based on the number of students and available money.
“We have to raise money to make sure this program can continue,” Sischo said. “It’s a terrific way for a donor to honor all the great things our students, faculty and staff are doing.”
When the new scholarship was announced, the Woodsons said they hoped it would encourage and enable more employees’ children to earn their degrees from NC State while serving as a “thank you” for employees’ hard work. Additionally, the scholarships could help attract and retain more outstanding faculty and staff, a key goal in the university’s strategic plan.
Kathy Kennel, executive director of the NC Agricultural Foundation and NC Tobacco Foundation within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the Employee Dependent’s Tuition Scholarship demonstrates the Woodsons’ leadership and love for NC State. Her daughter, Hannah, is a sophomore majoring in animal science and one of the scholarship recipients.
“I have been asked numerous times if, as an employee of NC State, I get a tuition discount or if Hannah gets to attend for free,” Kennel said. “Time and time again, my answer was ‘no.’ I can now enthusiastically explain how the Chancellor and Mrs. Woodson’s new scholarship program helps students like Hannah.”
The scholarship program is just one example of the Woodsons’ strong dedication to the employees of NC State. Hannah and I are grateful for their generosity and are both proud to be members of the Wolfpack family.” — Kathy Kennel
Donovan stressed that students must self-identify as applicants for the scholarship and must reapply each year because the staff cannot assume that a student’s or employee’s status is unchanged.
“Applying is simple, but the deadline will be very critical going forward. If a student is applying for admission, go ahead and fill out the scholarship application during the February 1 through April 1 window,” she said. “Don’t wait until the student is admitted, which could happen later if they’re wait-listed, for example. You can always let us know that the student isn’t coming to NC State.”
Along with faculty and staff dedication, private financial support is playing a critical role in the university’s upward trajectory, the chancellor said at the time that the Employee Dependent’s Tuition Scholarship was announced.
“We hope this is just the beginning” for this fund, Woodson said.
To learn more about eligibility requirements and applying for the scholarship, visit the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.