NCCU grads get help with unpaid fees

North Carolina Central senior Tia Mitchell couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium to receive her mass communications degree.

There was just one hitch in her plans.

Mitchell owed over $1,000 in unpaid tuition fees that needed to be paid before she could get her diploma.

“I ran out of financial aid, and I had been unsuccessful in securing a personal loan,” Mitchell said. “My parents weren’t able to help either. I felt stuck.”

In stepped the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Lowe’s.

Lowe’s, a home improvement retailer, donated $500,000 to the TMCF to help it provide scholarships for seniors with unpaid fees. Mitchell and 34 other seniors were able to walk the aisle with diploma in hand last month.

“The path to graduation is not always a straight one, even for some talented, hard-working students,” Interim Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye said. “That’s why scholarships like this are so important. They help many well-qualified Eagles complete their degrees and take that next big step into a career or graduate school.”

The TMF/Lowes scholarships are only available to students at public HBCUs. Scholarships vary; NCCU students received funds as low as $550 and as high as $3,100.

“It’s a gap scholarship that is designed to help graduating seniors facing a final hurdle that could potentially prevent them from graduating,” said David Hood, Ph.D., NCCU University College dean.

“We gave priority to students who had at least a 3.0 grade point average, even though the Thurgood Marshall Fund only required a 2.0.”

Students were also required to write a letter explaining the importance of receiving the scholarship and a thank-you note afterwards.

The situation facing Mitchell and other NCCU seniors is not unique, said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

“Even in their last year, thousands of college students face the possibility of not graduating due to financial difficulties and a lack of financial resources to pay for that last year or semester,” he said. “With partners like Lowe’s, students can look to TMCF as a lifeline to helping them fulfill their college dreams.”

Lowe’s has donated over $5 million since 2009 to support minority education, and has helped fund scholarships for 150 students. “Lowe’s recognizes the value of education in building future leaders,” said Joan Higginbotham, director of Global Sourcing for Lowe’s Companies. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to provide the critical assistance students need to graduate and achieve their full potential.”

Source: The Triangle Tribune