Beginning with the class of 2023, high school graduates will receive guaranteed two years of tuition assistance
Big Stone Gap — The MECC Foundation will launch the MECC Promise program, guaranteeing all high school graduates in our service region tuition-free community college beginning with the Class of 2023.
As part of MECC’s 50th-anniversary recognition, the MECC Advisory and Foundation Boards set a goal in 2022 to raise enough funding to support up to two -years of tuition coverage for high school graduates in Lee, Dickenson, Scott, Wise, and the city of Norton.
“The MECC Promise is intended to assist the students who have plans to enroll in community college post-high school, or those that go directly to employment,” said MECC President Dr. Kristen Westover. “While we need workers, SWVA needs skilled workers. Obtaining a skill set that leads to beyond entry-level employment is critical for our residents.”
In April 2022, the members of the Genan Foundation of Charlottesville, visited MECC to tour the campus and learn more about the college’s workforce initiative. MECC staff requested Genan Foundation’s support to raise educational attainment rates in southwest Virginia, which are about 20% below the state average.
In August 2022, the Genan Foundation announced a $750,000 gift to kick off the MECC Promise program, citing MECC’s commitment to building a skilled, trained workforce in the region. MECC President Kristen Westover and MECC Foundation Executive Director Amy Greear visited each local county’s Board of Supervisors and the Norton City Council to request additional support to secure program funding beyond 2023. The program will also be supported by private scholarships, by donors with the MECC Foundation.
To qualify, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA, be continuously enrolled for up to two years, or 72 credit hours, up to the completion of the applicant’s first Associate Degree; reside in the service area and provide proof of residency; complete a FAFSA and submit all required documentation annually, and complete MECC Scholarship Application annually. The MECC Promise scholarship will be a last-dollar scholarship for tuition only.
Greear stated that all students in MECC’s service region should now view college as a viable option in the next step of their future. Training beyond high school is critically necessary to building a skilled, trained workforce. “Students will be required to dedicate long hours of studying to maintain their scholarship funding, and they will have to pay for additional expenses outside of tuition. However, the MECC Promise Program will remove the financial burden of paying tuition. This is an incredible step in building the region’s workforce and the long-term economic stability of southwest Virginia.”
Located in Big Stone Gap, MECC is celebrating its 50th year serving students in Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and the city of Norton. MECC serves more than 1,300 full-time students and more than 3,000 part-time or non-credit students in a variety of academic and career-technical programs. Learn more about MECC’s Promise Program at www.mecc.edu/promise.
For more information on the promise program, please contact the MECC Office of Public Relations, at 276-523-2400