NCCU goes after two initiatives to increase college access, affordability

Nov. 20, 2013 @ 05:16 PM

N.C. Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White on Wednesday told the Board of Trustees that the university is looking to help lead nationwide efforts to increase college access and affordability.

The chancellor said NCCU sent a request to the U.S. Department of Education asking that NCCU become an experimental site for Federal Pell Grant reform. Seventy-six percent of NCCU students are Pell eligible, which means they can receive need-based grants due to their income status. The grants don’t have to be repaid, and they’re usually awarded only to undergraduates.
NCCU would demonstrate a performance-based Pell program, where students would be given incentives to graduate in four years.
This would increase the four-year graduation rate as well as save taxpayer money, since federal Pell Grants are awarded to a student for up to six years of schooling, Saunders-White said.
NCCU also recently asked the UNC General Administration to allow the campus to modify its admission standards for a pilot program.
Under current UNC General Administration standards, only students who have at least a 2.5 high school grade point average and minimum 800 SAT (critical reading and math) score can be accepted to a UNC system school, to include NCCU.
Someone who received a 750 on his or her SAT but has a 3.0 GPA wouldn’t be able to attend NCCU and instead go to a community college, Saunders-White said. This pilot program would set the admissions bar at a 750 SAT and 3.0 GPA, to prove that grade-point average is a better predictor of student success than standardized testing.
“That profile of student not only can come to NCCU but can thrive and be an asset to our state and our nation,” she said.
The Board of Trustees also examined NCCU’s rating in Business Insider, which takes a look at the Obama administration’s plans to develop a rating system for colleges that will determine which students receive additional federal aid. Business Insider’s rankings examine colleges based on their accessibility, affordability and student success.
NCCU was No. 15 in the nation, in which its students had a $35,000 starting median salary, a 38-percent graduation rate, paid an annual $15,971 to attend school, and 76 percent of the student population could take part in the Federal Pell Grant program. Within the Business Insider list of UNC system schools, NCCU ranked fourth, with N.C. A&T State University grabbing the top spot.
Also this week, N.C. Central and Central Carolina Community College based in Sanford announced an agreement designed to further educate and train nurses in the work force.
The four-year program, Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN), will enroll its first students in the fall of 2014 and put them on the path to a bachelor of science in nursing.
The students would be enrolled at both NCCU and Central Carolina, according to the university announcement.
“The demand for nurses and the demands on nurses have accelerated and expanded,” said Dr. Betty Dennis, chair of the NCCU nursing department, in a statement. “Clearly, the number of graduates from baccalaureate programs is not sufficient to meet this challenge. Although associate degree and diploma programs graduate about 65 percent of nurses, only 15 percent of these nurses ever complete the baccalaureate or go on to graduate study.”
At the NCCU Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, Saunders-White said Central Carolina isn’t the only nursing education partner that NCCU is looking to get on paper.
“A question that may immediately come to mind is why aren’t we doing that with Durham Tech?” Saunders-White said. “And I’ll tell you, we’re working aggressively on making that, indeed, a reality.”