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Goodnight Scholarships Help Middle-Income Students

While a college degree brings an economic dividend that nearly doubles the income of young adults, paying for college sometimes places an economic burden on families. North Carolina State University is one of the first public universities in the nation to offer a measure of relief to students from middle-income families.

The Goodnight Scholarship Program – funded by a gift from Dr. Jim and Ann Goodnight – will underwrite the cost of tuition and fees beginning this fall for 25 incoming freshmen students from North Carolina. That number will increase to 50 next year and each year thereafter. The scholarships support the students as long as they qualify for renewal and continue with their studies. By the fifth year of the program, the Goodnight Scholarships will cover 200 students at a cost of about $1 million per year.

In addition to financial aid, a leadership development program will prepare Goodnight Scholars to take on leadership roles as students on campus and in their professional and civic lives.

Jim Goodnight is founder and CEO of SAS, the world's leading business intelligence software vendor. Ann Goodnight serves on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and is a former member of the NC State Board of Trustees. She is director of community relations at SAS. Both are NC State graduates.

"We're concerned that middle-income students and their families don't have many options when it comes to paying for higher education," says Ann Goodnight. "Thankfully, there are a number of grants and programs targeted to help lower-income students – especially at NC State. But middle-income families often end up taking on a huge burden of debt to pay for college. It creates stress on the student and stress on the family."

"We're grateful to Jim and Ann Goodnight for all they do for NC State," says Chancellor Jim Oblinger. "It's notable – and remarkable – that they saw a need and immediately stepped in to help. Their capacity for finding and delivering solutions to even the toughest challenges represents the very best of NC State, and we're proud to have their support and enthusiasm."

The Goodnight Scholarship enhances NC State's ongoing efforts to make college affordable for families regardless of income. Pack Promise, NC State's aid package for low-income students, was introduced in 2006 and now covers more than 900 students whose family income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

The Goodnight Scholarship program targets students with a family income of between $50,000 and $85,000 a year. That income bracket may be adjusted in future years based on economic conditions in the state.

Incoming freshman Andrew Tibbits, who began moving into a dormitory at NC State last weekend, is pursuing a degree in engineering. With the help of the Goodnight Scholarship and an engineering scholarship, his first year at NC State is paid in full. That's a big relief for his parents.

"They're pretty excited," he says. "They don't have to worry about paying."

With two other children following Tibbits – a 1-year-old and an 8-year-old – the family faces the challenge of paying college bills for decades. Thanks to the Goodnight Scholarship, they have some breathing room.

The prospect of graduating from college is an important goal for Tibbits. He'll be the first in his family to obtain a bachelor's degree. A career in engineering will give him the opportunity to avoid the financial stresses that have confronted his parents.

And, says Goodnight, supporting students like Tibbits benefits the community, as well. Graduating students with advanced skills helps build the state's high-tech economy. In fact, the scholarship program is specifically targeted to in-state students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or education.

Julie Rice Mallette, associate vice provost and director of scholarships and financial aid, is excited by the opportunity to offer more assistance to middle-income students and their families.

"The plight of the middle class is that they often can't afford to pay expenses out of pocket but they generally don't qualify for large amounts of need-based scholarships," she says. "It's clear that many middle-income students have significant needs that we haven't been able to meet in the past. Through programs like Pack Promise NC State is able to provide significant financial assistance to low-income families. The Goodnight Scholarship program will enhance NC State's ability to provide scholarship support to middle-income families, too."

Because the number of middle-income students is high, the Goodnight Scholarship is being offered to students who meet rigorous academic standards. That makes it a valued – and valuable – opportunity.

"The students feel rewarded for their academic performance," says Krista Domnick, associate director of scholarships and financial aid. "And their parents appreciate the financial support."