ECSU Receives $20 Million USDA Loan
University of North Carolina System President Margaret Spellings and Elizabeth City State University Interim Chancellor Karrie Dixon have announced that ECSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have agreed to the terms of a $20 million loan that will allow for key improvements to residence halls while replenishing the university’s operating and maintenance reserves.
“This USDA loan is a critical step forward for ECSU that builds on extraordinary support from the General Assembly and an all-hands-on-deck effort from the ECSU Board of Trustees, the UNC Board of Governors, and the UNC System Office during the past several years,” said UNC System President Margaret Spellings. “These improvements to residence halls will further improve the student experience without increasing the cost of attending. ECSU is doing the hard work to secure the resources they need to enter its next chapter and move Northeastern North Carolina forward.”
The pursuit of low-interest federal funding was one of the strategies that came out of the ECSU Working Group that President Spellings convened in the fall of 2016. The agreement is the culmination of an 18-month application process, during which UNC System Office Leadership and ECSU Leadership worked diligently to ensure all requirements for qualification were met.
“We are focused on maintaining the positive momentum that has begun here at Elizabeth City State University,” said ECSU Interim Chancellor Karrie Dixon. “On the heels of our five-year record enrollment numbers, this is yet another example of ECSU implementing strategies that position the University for sustainable growth. I couldn’t be more proud of our partners at the ECSU Foundation and my team for their leadership in this effort.”
The loan, provided through the USDA Community Facilities Program, includes $10 million to completely renovate a historically significant, 1920’s era residence hall, demolish two obsolete residence halls and update the campus master plan. The loan also includes an additional $10 million that will be used to restructure existing debt on Viking Village, one of ECSU’s primary residence halls. The $10 million note on Viking Village, which currently has an interest rate near 5 percent, will be refinanced to 3.875 percent to achieve savings and ensure sufficient operating flexibility.
“The continued growth of ECSU, the efforts of its staff, faculty, and dedicated alumni, are bearing fruit,” said Dr. Jeanette Evans, chair of the ECSU Foundation Board of Directors. “The approval of this loan is a testimony to the bright future of this great institution. Thank you to the ECSU Foundation Board, the USDA and everyone else who has made this possible.”
The restructuring of debt through the federal loan will eventually allow ECSU to serve an additional 100 students without increasing existing debt capacity. The announcement of the USDA loan also comes following a recent increase in student enrollment at ECSU, thanks in part to the new NC Promise program, a state-funded initiative which reduces undergraduate tuition to just $500 per semester for in-state students and just $2,500 per semester for out-of-state students. ECSU’s total undergraduate enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester increased by 19 percent and new transfer enrollment increased by 57 percent.
“ECSU is a great example of how the Board of Governors is currently working to ensure all our schools are successful,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair Harry Smith. “The current Board is focused on the entire UNC System by taking on some of the issues that have been ignored such as the $4-5 billion dollar repair and renovation needs that challenge many institutions’ long term sustainability.”