Johnson C. Smith University is pleased to announce a gift of $825,000 from the John M. Belk Endowment to increase access to the university by providing scholarships to deserving students.
The money will help offset a decline in financial aid available to many families due largely to increased eligibility criteria for families seeking college loans from the U.S. Department of Education’s Parent PLUS Loan program. Tighter underwriting restrictions have had a disproportionate impact on historically black colleges and universities, which serve greater numbers of disadvantaged students.
“Many of today’s JCSU students face significant financial barriers that result in gaps between the aid they receive and the total cost of their college education,” said Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University. Approximately 85 percent of JCSU students receive some form of financial aid; 45 percent are first-generation college students, and 70 percent come from low-income households.
“Such statistics speak to the compelling and diverse needs of these students and the constant pressure they carry as they seek ways to pay for their education,” Carter said. “We are grateful to the John M. Belk Endowment for helping us maintain our commitment to this group.”
The scholarships will go to deserving first-generation college students who graduate from North Carolina high schools. Johnson C. Smith University has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 22 fields of study to more than 1,300 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s academic programs focus on leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility.
“We recognize that for many first-generation college students, the cost of higher education is out of reach,” said MC Pilon, chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “Our mission is to increase their access to higher education so they can get the skills they need to succeed – and to boost the quality of North Carolina’s workforce.”
The John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation that partners with postsecondary programs and institutions in North Carolina to create higher educational opportunities for low-income and other underrepresented students. Founded by the late John M. Belk, a former Charlotte Mayor and CEO of Belk Inc., the Endowment aims to enhance the state’s workforce by increasing these students’ access to and completion of college and other credentialing education.