College Guarantee Program in Full Swing

Main building at Forysth Tech Community College

The main building at Forsyth Tech Community College

Last week, Forsyth Tech President Janet Spriggs and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines appeared on Triad Today to talk about the “College Guarantee” program they created, and the “Hope and Opportunity” scholarships available through that program.

 


JL: Allen, what is the College Guarantee program all about, and why was it developed?

AJ: Jim, we’ve got a comprehensive effort to reduce poverty in our community, and we felt like one of the best ways to break that cycle is to help disadvantaged young people be able to go to college. And so we put together this program where any young person who graduates from high school in Forsyth County, and wants to go to Forsyth Tech, but can’t afford it, can go absolutely free – tuition, books, fees, even some money in there for transportation and child care, so Dr. Spriggs can take them for two years, turn them around, and get a great career going.

JL: Janet, what’s the criteria for students to be selected for the program?

JS: Well, the first criteria is that they graduate from a Forsyth County high school, and the next criteria is based on income. We have them fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and that tells us what their estimated family contribution will be. We then base their award on that estimated family contribution. It’s also important to note that this is a last dollar scholarship, so we use that FAFSA data to determine if there’s federal or other scholarship aid available to the student before the College Guarantee money is applied, in order to make their money go further. If we can use federal aid to cover tuition and maybe books, then we can apply the Hope and Opportunity scholarship to help them stay in school, by helping with transportation and childcare as the Mayor mentioned.

JL: How’s that been working thus far?

JS: We had almost 1,100 students that qualified this year who we reached out to and recruited. As of yesterday, we had 696 of them who registered at Forsyth Tech.

JL: How is this program being funded?

AJ: Well Janet and I sat down and figured out what it would take to run this for six years, because we didn’t want it to just be a drop in the bucket, so we came up with a number. I then went to Kelly King, the CEO with BB&T (now Truist) and made a pitch to Kelly. He’s very interested in addressing poverty, and Truist gave us a grant that covers the program for a full six year period.

JL: Janet, What role will community colleges play in bringing us out of this pandemic-related economic downturn?

JS: I think we’re going to be a critical player in that regard. We always are whenever we’ve been in a recessionary period. The community college system in North Carolina has been a driver for economic recovery, with the workforce preparedness and workforce development required to rebuild and re-stimulate the economy, and to prepare workers for the new jobs that always come out of any recessionary economic time.

JL: And Allen, this program is also going to bode well for our future economy if these kids go to college, right?

AJ: Absolutely, we estimate these kids will be making $40,000 or $50,000 a year, and if you think about the fact that we’re going to help 2,600 to 3,000 of these young people, so that’s going to have a major impact on our economy.



 

For more information about the “Hope and Opportunity” scholarships, visit www.ForsythTech.edu/hope.

 
 

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