For 20 Residential Scholars, living on campus has its perks

An ECU scholarship that pays upperclassmen to live on campus is encouraging students to become more involved in the university and local community.

The Residential Scholars Program awards students $4,000 per year to be used to support on-campus housing expenses. The program was established in 2010 and provides leadership and community involvement experiences for 20 upperclassmen. Residential Scholars must maintain a 3.0 GPA, serve as leaders in campus groups, live in either Gateway or Jarvis residence halls and complete 20 hours of community service each semester.

The group includes a wide range of students and majors. Sophomore nursing major Samantha Willard said she would never have met sophomore computer science major Brandon Fellenstein had it not been for the Residential Scholars Program. Or any computer science majors for that matter.

“We all get along really well, surprisingly,” she said, adding that she applied for the program to learn more about what service and leadership could look like on campus. She and her fellow Residential Scholars recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for fall break to volunteer with the So Others May Eat project. They also attend monthly dinners with guest speakers who are leaders in their fields.

Fellenstein was considering transferring schools at the end of his freshman year, but receiving a residential scholarship convinced him to stay.

“It gave me a reason to come back to ECU. It was something to be excited for,” he said. “It’s a great way to take on a little more responsibility while getting a new group of friends and giving back to the university and community.”

The program is consistent with the university’s vision of rewarding students for academic excellence, service and leadership, said Bill McCartney, associate vice chancellor for housing operations. “We’re trying to keep upperclassmen on campus to serve as role models for younger students and to develop their leadership skills,” he said.

There are currently 5,350 students living on campus. Of those, 74 percent are freshmen, 15 percent are sophomores, 7 percent are juniors and 4 percent are seniors. National studies have found that students living in residence halls do better academically than their off-campus peers and that living on campus contributes to greater overall satisfaction with college.

Campus Living, which oversees housing operations, funds the scholarships and is working to build the endowment for them. The department has raised $110,000 of its $1.4 million goal so far.

McCartney said he’d like to see the scholarship amount grow to eventually cover all room and board expenses. He’d also like to keep the program small so that students can really get to know each other and “achieve their full potential in and out of the classroom.”

Students can apply to the Residential Scholars Program through AcademicWorks beginning Nov. 1 and ending Feb. 17. Accepted students will be notified in April. Visit for more information.