The Greenwood community has made a promise – literally – to its young people, and Piedmont Technical College is helping to deliver on that pledge.
After four years of planning and fundraising, this fall marked the first group of students to enroll at Piedmont Tech under The Greenwood Promise. The program offers postsecondary tuition assistance to all qualifying high school graduates in Greenwood County.
“So far, we’ve seen a 38 percent increase in the number of students from Greenwood County coming to us directly from high school,” said Josh Black, associate vice president for enrollment and communications.
The Greenwood Promise is designed as a place-based, last-dollar scholarship program. Scholarship amounts are based on how long the student has lived in school districts 50, 51 or 52. They are designed to go toward any remaining tuition and mandatory fees after all state and federal grants and scholarships have been applied.
Scholarship funds may be used at Piedmont Tech or another South Carolina technical college if the desired program is not available. Funds can be used toward certificate, diploma and associate degree programs requiring at least 12 credit hours for completion.
“It’s been an extremely positive experience working with Piedmont Tech so far,” said Kris Burris, executive director of The Greenwood Promise.
Students must maintain full-time status and a 2.0 GPA to renew their scholarship. Students have three years from the date of their high school graduation to achieve their certificate, degree or diploma.
Numerous studies show lifetime earnings are significantly higher for those with a postsecondary degree or certification. Meanwhile, the new economy demands that Greenwood County workers have increased levels of training. The Greenwood Promise addresses both issues while ensuring financial challenges won’t stand between students and their goals.
“We’re looking at developing a highly skilled workforce,” Burris said. “And the entire community will benefit in terms of economic development and a better quality of life.”
While there are more than 80 promise-type programs across the United States, The Greenwood Promise is the first of its kind in South Carolina providing this level of postsecondary support.
“The Greenwood Promise is a vote of confidence from Greenwood County in the quality and affordability of a Piedmont Technical College education,” Black said, “and it’s leading many students to take a second look at the value we’ve been providing to the region for 50-plus years.”