A new education initiative will allow students in low-income households who graduate from high school in Forsyth County to attend community college for free. The program, called the Winston-Salem College Guarantee, was announced this week.

Several groups are involved in the project, including the Winston-Salem Alliance, the local school system and other nonprofits.

The goal is to help economically disadvantaged students in the county achieve education goals beyond high school without the burden of debt. They will take classes at Forsyth Tech Community College.

The program is funded primarily by a six-year, $870,000-dollar grant from BB&T Corp.

The scholarship would kick in after financial aid and can be used for tuition, books, childcare and other expenses while attending Forsyth Tech.

“It's really going to create hope and opportunity for students who need it the most and have quite honestly sometimes not had a lot of that in their lives, and so this money is going to be a game changer for these students”, says Forsyth Tech President Janet Spriggs.

She says it will have a lasting impact on the community. “I do believe it has the potential to interrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty that exists in so many places within Forsyth County.”

There are certain requirements to qualify for the program. 

  • Be an immediate graduate of a Forsyth County high school and be between the ages of 18 and 21.
  • Be a full-time student at FTCC and carry at least 12 hours of credits.
  • Be from a family that has an income of 80 percent or less of the average median income of the county.
  • Have first taken advantage of or not qualified for other means of funding college, including Pell grants or other funding sources.
  • Maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average.
  • Participate in a remedial program if pre-testing indicates a deficiency in reading, math or other basic skills.

Organizers say participating students must also agree to remain in Forsyth County for at least two years after graduation, unless they are attending a four-year college or university outside the county.

Students in public or private schools can apply.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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