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Need-Based Scholarship Initiative Gets $5 Million Boost

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A campuswide, need-based scholarship fund established earlier this year at NC State will get a major boost from two transformational gifts totaling $5 million.

These lead gifts of $2.5 million each from the family of 1977 alumnus Stephen F. Angel and a second anonymous family will bolster a matching pool of funds to encourage even more donors to support the university’s Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, said Brian Sischo, vice chancellor for university advancement. Sischo and Chancellor Randy Woodson announced the gifts as part of the university’s Sept. 16 Day of Giving: Stronger as a Pack event.

 Woodson formally unveiled the launch of the Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative in February with the goal of empowering NC State to offer more need-based scholarships to students in every college and major. The initiative’s purpose is to help fill the gap between the financial aid students qualify for and what the university can offer. This ensures no member of the Wolfpack is left behind — no matter their background or the hardships they face.

Through the matching pool, a donor who establishes a new Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship endowment of $50,000 or more is eligible to receive a 50% funding match, increasing their impact. 

“NC State University helped shape me in my youth, provided me with a first-class education and prepared me well for the work place,” Angel said. “I passionately believe in giving back to the institution that gave me so much, so generations of North Carolinians to come will have the opportunity to attend, learn and grow just as I did. The Angel Family Foundation looks forward to partnering with other like-minded donors to make an education at NC State a reality for these extraordinary students.”

Angel graduated from the College of Engineering with a degree in civil engineering. He earned an MBA from Loyola College in Baltimore while working at GE and later joined Praxair Inc. where he became chairman and CEO. After Praxair merged with Linde AG in 2019, Angel became CEO of the combined company, Linde PLC, the largest industrial gases company in the world. Earlier this year, he received the Watauga Medal, NC State’s highest academic honor, for his voluntarism, advocacy, leadership and philanthropy.

Steve Angel speaking at the 2019 Red and White Night event
Steve Angel speaking at the November 2019 Red and White Night philanthropy event about the importance of providing more student opportunity through NC State’s current Campaign. Photo by Marc Hall.

In addition to the two lead gifts, the new scholarship’s matching pool also has recently benefited from $100,000 gifts from Chancellor Woodson and his wife, Susan, and from three-time alumnus Dr. Jim Owens and his wife, Katie.

In addition to major gifts eligible for the matching dollars, gifts of any amount will make an immediate difference for students through the Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship general fund.

The initiative supports undergraduate access and affordability, creates a stronger Pack and helps develop the next generation of leaders, Sischo added.

“We are so grateful for the leadership of these donors as we work to open doors for more students,” he said. “The matching pool of funds will be used to inspire and incentivize other donors to join this important initiative. NC State was established to expand access to higher education, and we’re committed to affirming and expanding that vision to empower an even broader group of students from across North Carolina.

“While our university remains very affordable in comparison to other outstanding institutions, we certainly have unmet student need. Bridging the gap will help ensure that everyone who qualifies for admission is able to develop their talents and pursue their dreams here.”

The Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative is part of the university’s Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign, launched publicly in October 2016. Through early August 2020, this largest-ever NC State fundraising effort had raised more than $1.78 billion for scholarships and fellowships, faculty support, programs and facilities.

NC State was established to expand access to higher education, and we’re committed to affirming and expanding that vision to empower an even broader group of students from across North Carolina.

By June 30, the end of the most recent fiscal year, donors to the Campaign had established 779 new scholarships and fellowships, already providing funding for 2,000-plus students.

More low- and middle-income students, however, need support. Sischo said that continuing to close this financial gap for current and potential members of the Wolfpack is one of the biggest priorities for the remainder of the Campaign and beyond its Dec. 31, 2021, completion.

“[Some of our students] worry about affording supplies for class, balancing a prescription with buying groceries or finding enough time to study between working as many hours as possible to get by,” Woodson said earlier this year when announcing the launch of the Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative. “These students are also tomorrow’s leaders. But when the gap between their financial need and what we can offer in aid is too large, it becomes increasingly difficult for too many of our students to achieve their potential.”

According to the university’s Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, even before the coronavirus pandemic, 73% of NC State’s roughly 25,000 undergraduates applied for financial aid and more than 50% of its undergraduates qualified for some form of need-based aid as outlined by federal guidelines. The estimated average annual cost of attendance is just over $24,500, and the average annual student need is more than $16,000.

The university is currently able to meet just below 73 percent of that need, using all sources including scholarships and grants, loans and work-study jobs.

The total unmet annual need for North Carolina residents alone is roughly $35.6 million.

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“Among our peer institutions, an average of 64% of undergrads request aid,” said Krista Ringler, associate vice provost and director of scholarships and financial aid. “We’re in the middle group in terms of what we can offer. Most of our students are working part-time as well, but unfortunately, we see excited, promising students who simply are unable to begin or continue their education at NC State because of financial concerns.

“We’ve made good progress in this Campaign, nearly doubling the number of students we can help, but we still have a ways to go. We have goals as a university to increase our enrollment of students in underrepresented groups, students who are the first in their family to attend college and students from rural communities. Additionally, the economic situation of many families is certainly becoming even more challenging.”

Sischo said the Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship reflects and expands NC State’s land-grant commitment to serve the people of North Carolina by applying innovation, driving the economy and, especially, providing an exceptional, accessible education.

“In challenging times, the mission of public universities like ours becomes even more critical,” he said. “Philanthropy elevates everything we do, and providing need-based scholarships is truly an investment in our future.”