Perspectives Online

While scholarships continue to grow, need for funding is stronger than ever

Dr. Ken Esbenshade, with his children Keith and Jen, creates the Ken Esbenshade Animal Science Scholarship Endowment.
Photo by Daniel Kim

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers nearly 250 different merit- and need-based scholarships totaling $775,000. This year, according to the College's Office of Academic Programs, the goal is to reach $800,000. These scholarships make a real difference in the lives of undergraduate students, especially as tuition costs continue to rise. But according to Dr. Ken Esbenshade, associate dean and director of Academic Programs, there is much work to be done to provide even more scholarship opportunities for incoming and continuing students.

"Being a land-grant institution, we would like to have the resources to enable students who otherwise couldn't be here to enroll at N.C. State," Esbenshade said. "We impact a lot of students through our scholarship program, but we don't have the resources to address all student need."

The College's scholarships range in value from about $300 to a "full ride," valued at $13,000 annually. Most of the awards fall in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. About half of these scholarships are need-based, Esbenshade said, which allows the College to provide assistance to deserving students, particularly those in the more economically depressed areas of the state.

Merit scholarships also are critical, as they allow the College to compete with peer institutions in recruiting the best and brightest students.

The need is great to entice graduating high school seniors to stay in North Carolina and attend college here, Esbenshade said. At the same time, he added, the College has a special responsibility to reward its continuing students for their excellent performances while enrolled at N.C. State.

The College's slate of scholarships represents a diverse collection of donors, including corporations, foundations, private individuals, faculty and agriculture commodity groups, among others. Many scholarships are endowed at a level of $15,000, which enables the College to use a percentage of the interest earned to make the awards each year while the base endowment continues to grow. Other awards are provided in lump sums, through annual commitments with donors.

Scholarship donors create the awards for a wide variety of reasons, whether to honor loved ones or simply to give back to the institution from which they graduated. Each year, the College hosts a scholarship banquet that provides an opportunity for the donors and students to meet in person and get to know each other.

While scholarships in the College are awarded to about 550 students every year, there is still plenty of room for growth. The impact of increased scholarship opportunities has far-reaching potential.

"Many of our students return to their North Carolina hometowns to become leaders in their local communities, in both urban and rural areas of the state," Esbenshade said. "Providing scholarships to deserving students enables the College to produce graduates who are ready to contribute to the state and make a real difference in their communities."

- Suzanne Stanard