Sandhills Community College has made it possible for Moore County residents who graduate from a public or private high school or a registered home school to attend the college tuition-free. An information session regarding the Sandhills Promise for Pinecrest and Union Pines High School students will be on Tuesday, November 14 in Owens Auditorium beginning at 6:30 p.m. Parents or guardians of current middle and high school students and students themselves are invited to attend. College representatives will explain the program and field questions.
To qualify for Sandhills Promise, current high school students, who are residents of Hoke County, are required to successfully complete four College and Career Promise (CCP) classes at SCC with a 2.0 GPA or higher. Upon successful graduation from high school, SCC will cover tuition costs at the in-state rate for two years, which begin the fall semester after high school graduation and end following the summer semester of the second year. The program is available to students enrolling as degree-seeking, curriculum students. Books are not included.
A completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and an SCC scholarship application is required. Students will first utilize all other financial aid sources including federal, state and SCC scholarship aid and Sandhills Promise will then cover any unmet tuition costs at the in-state rate.
Once enrolled, Sandhills Promise students must continuously meet the financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress standards outlined by the state and federal government (maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA and complete at least 67% of all courses attempted at Sandhills Community College).
For complete information about the Sandhills Promise, go to promise.sandhills.edu.
The Sandhills Promise is Extremely Valuable
With flat or decreasing family incomes, parents are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to cover the entire cost of postsecondary education for their children, even if they have been saving for years or investing in the NC 529 Plan and the student is holding down a job.
According to affordableschools.net, over the past three decades, college tuition has increased 1,120 percent, and in the past ten years it has increased three times as fast as the consumer-price index and twice as fast as the cost of medical care.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, the total in-state cost of full-time attendance, campus housing, and a meal plan was $25,876 for the 2017-18 academic year. At UNC-Pembroke the cost was $17,277 and $23,113 at UNC-Wilmington. These costs are much more at private institutions.
The average debt for a college graduate earning a bachelor’s degree, two-thirds of all recent alumni, has tripled in the past two decades, now topping $35,000 nationwide. In 2017, the average college loan debt in North Carolina was at $25,645. Student debt across the nation is over $1.2 trillion. The average bachelor’s degree holder takes 21 years to pay off his or her loans.
Allowing students to graduate college debt-free will free them up to proceed with major life events such as taking a job in their field, buying a car or home, getting married, having children, and saving for retirement.
Student loan debt can affect a person’s credit and financial future. Defaulting on a student loan makes the person ineligible for further federal aid. 11.6% of students at North Carolina postsecondary schools who were scheduled to begin paying their loans in 2013 were in default by the third year of repayment.
According to Edvisors in an article about minimizing student loan debt, total student loan debt at graduation should be less than the student’s expected annual starting salary.
The state of Tennessee began a scholarship program in 2014 that ensures all recent high school graduates can attend state community colleges without paying tuition or fees. A similar program is in effect in Kentucky. Legislation has been introduced in three northeastern states for such programs, but neither North Carolina nor any nearby east coast state has such a program.
The Sandhills Promise is made possible due to the generous contributions of donors to the college.