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Helping Those Who Need it Most

At a time when families are more worried than ever about the cost of college, NC State’s Pack Promise is helping approximately 1,000 new and continuing students get the education of their dreams. For families with limited financial resources, Pack Promise covers up to nine semesters of college, using a combination of scholarships, grants, federal work-study jobs and need-based loans of no more than $2,500 per year.

When they enrolled at NC State, Pack Promise scholars Amanda Wilkins of Belmont, Derick Jones of Greenville and LaToya Carter of Greensboro became the latest to hold NC State to its land-grant promise of affordable, accessible education.

Pack Promise was launched four years ago to pay the difference between college costs and what families with limited resources could afford to contribute. Those with family incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level and limited assets can qualify. No special application is required; awards are based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition to financial aid, Pack Promise provides academic coaching and support to help students set goals and succeed in college and in life.

“I’m so excited I can’t wait to get started,” says Wilkins, a horticultural science major who hopes to work in the campus greenhouses. “I want to get my hands in the dirt.”

After orientation, Wilkins knew her fall schedule – 16 hours, with classes every day of the week, including some at 8 a.m. so she “won’t be tempted to sleep in.”

Coming from a magnet school of 500 students, Wilkins was pleased to learn that she’ll have support as she adjusts at NC State. “The best thing I liked about orientation was that they push the services available to students. I’m glad they pointed them out to us.”

Wilkins and her mom, Lisa, asked questions and took notes. “She belongs here,” Lisa said. “Even though it’s big, with the group she’s going into, she’ll make it her family.”

In just a day and a half, friendships were already forming.

Derick Jones of Greenville and LaToya Carter of Greensboro found that they share a university studies class and interests in student government and biological science careers.

Carter, who carried her piccolo for marching band class in her backpack – just in case – was amazed at the number of opportunities to get involved. “There are over 520 clubs on campus – that was amazing,” she says.

Bilingual in Spanish and quick-spoken, she plans to become an animal science teacher. “It combines both of my loves: animals and teaching.” Both of the high school ag teachers who inspired her are NC State alums.

Jones, who’s majoring in biological sciences, ultimately hopes to become a doctor of internal medicine.

On the way out, they paused outside Witherspoon, laughing about the snowcones, pizza, cotton candy and fun they’d had at Splashdown.

They’ll meet again in class in a few weeks for USC 110, a freshman seminar on diversity.