New program offers high school students free college tuition

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - High school students from North Carolina will soon be able to go to college and not pay a dime.  This is part of Governor Bev Perdue's initiative called NC Career and College Promise.

High school juniors and seniors with a 3.0 grade point average and those who can pass an assessment test are eligible to be part of the program.

"It'll help me be better prepared for college," HS student Lauren Jakubisin said. "To do well 'cause I will be used to the classes."

Perdue wants high school seniors to either be prepared for college, be able to jump start a career or have skills to get a job once they graduate from high school.  Parents think this is a good idea and could help create more taxpayers.

"I think it's going to save money in the long run," Parent Nita Jakubisin said.  "Because you are going to have students coming out with degrees, where they can get jobs - rather than struggling in lower income positions."

So far 150 students have signed up for the program at Central Piedmont Community College.  Administrators think more will come and they say they are ready.

"We believe we have enough space," CPCC's Dean of Enrollment JJ McEachern said. "We think we have enough faculty, have enough programs."

About 30,000 students all over the state have participated in programs similar to this. This could be a sign of how many will take part in this program.

McEachern said the programs that are offered at CPCC will allow students to gain employment once they graduate from high school.

"There's construction," McEachern said.  "Fire protection, there's interior design - each year we'll add programs."

Students will be able to earn college credits while in high school and once they get their diploma they will have skills to jump start a career or they can transfer their credits to a four year college/university.

"By the time he's done with high school," Parent Marisol Melendez said.  "He's going to have a year's worth of college under his belt."

Many think this will motivate students to at least finish high school. The theory is students will get pumped up about this program and what it has to offer.

"If a student is interested in construction," McEachern said.  "But not anything in their high school has a construction component to it, they might get excited again about education and can take it and push them to graduation."

We are told there is bi-partisan support for this program in Raleigh. So it appears state lawmakers will continue to pay for students to go to college until they graduate with a high school diploma.

The program kicks off next year.  Students have already signed up for classes.

If interested in NC Career and College Promise log on to www.careercollegenc.org or  http://cpcc.edu/hsprograms/career-college-promise

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