Just a few weeks into the Fall 2017 college semester, the impact of the Greenwood Promise is already being felt in Greenwood County.
Starting with this year's high school senior class, the Greenwood Promise made a promise to every eligible student enrolled in a Greenwood County public, private or accredited home school that the financial support to begin their college education would be there for them after graduation from high school.
Many students are taking the program up on its offer.
“We are seeing a substantial number of students who have taken advantage of the Promise,” said Josh Black, associate vice president for Enrollment and Communication at Piedmont Technical College (PTC).
146 students from the graduating class applied to receive Promise funds, and 141 were eligible for funding. At present, more than a third of the graduating classes from Greenwood County schools are enrolled at PTC this fall.
“Fall enrollment numbers are not yet final. But so far we’re seeing a 38% increase in the number of students from Greenwood County coming to us directly from high school,” Black said.
PTC reports that much of the increase can be attributed directly to the excitement around the Promise, and support for the program from the school districts and the community throughout the past year.
The Promise is a last dollar scholarship program, and pays the difference in tuition expenses after other scholarships, grants and awards have been applied. After all aid was applied for the eligible students this Fall, 37 received Promise funds to pay their remaining tuition and mandatory fees, with awards ranging from $52.50 to $1,182.50.
“The Promise is about giving hope to students that they can attend college,” said Dr. Beth Taylor, director of Secondary Education for Greenwood School District 50. “The amount of feedback we’ve received from parents and students, and the questions we continue to get are proof that our community has been in need of a program like this.”
Initial school district reports indicate that the Promise is resonating with the community, and many students are now taking a well-considered approach to how they’ll fund their college education. Many are also considering how to maximize the benefits of the other State and Federal financial aid programs that are available to them by starting at Piedmont Technical College.
“This initial impact is everything we’ve been hoping it would be,” said Kris Burris, executive director for the Greenwood Promise. “We expect that we’ll continue to see positive results as the program moves forward, and as we work toward Phase 2.”
The Greenwood Promise is being implemented in three Phases, as funds become available in the program’s endowment. Phase 1 of the Promise provides support for students to receive at least an associate degree.
Phase 2, which will fund years 3 and 4 of a bachelor’s degree in targeted majors, will begin to be implemented when the program’s endowment reaches $10 Million. Currently the Promise has $4.6 Million pledged, and fundraising efforts are underway to reach the next milestone.
“We are where we are today thanks to the generosity of our donors. They believed in this effort, and I think this solid start validates that belief. This is something I think our community is going to continue to rally behind as we’re able to share more good news,” said Ron Millender, Promise Committee Chairman.
About the Greenwood Promise
The Greenwood Promise is an educational initiative aimed at increasing the economic growth of Greenwood County by promoting postsecondary education and thereby ensuring a skilled and educated workforce.
For more information, visit www.greenwoodpromise.com.