FAIRFIELD COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - While the best things in life don’t always come free, Fairfield County is making an exception to that rule.
On Monday, Fairfield County School District leaders signed an agreement with Midlands Technical College to offer free college tuition. The agreement will allow 20-19 high school and G-E-D graduates living in the county to attend Midlands Tech at no cost. It's funded by the Fairfield County Promise Program, which is a scholarship program through the Fairfield County Council and the school district. One student who just graduated from Fairfield Central High School said she plans to do two years at Midlands Tech before fulfilling her dream of becoming a Gamecock.
"As an individual graduating from Fairfield Central high school,” said Nikayla Douglas, “coming from a single parent household it took the pressure off my Mom she's a single parent."
The county has been ravaged by closings and financial pitfalls over the past few years, the promise of a free education for Fairfield County graduating seniors could be the boost the workforce needs. That is, if the county can figure out how to keep those people in the county once they graduate. One state representative said she thinks they’ll stay.
"I think we'll keep them because we have a lot of economic development here,” said House District 41 Representative, Annie McDaniel. “We are right between Richland County and right between the Charlotte corridor. And businesses know we have students who are educated and taking advantage of educational options, they'll continue to move here and students will continue to stay here."
Over the past couple years Fairfield County has been dealt with a number of economic blows - the biggest one being the failure of the VC Summer nuclear project. Those in attendance at the signing on Monday said they view this as a look to the future growth in the county.
"We don't want to look at it as a cost, we want to look at it as an investment in the students and the county in terms of economic development,” said Ronald Rhames, the President of Midlands Technical College.
There are seven Midlands Technical College Campuses, but district officials said this is the first agreement of its kind in the Midlands. According to officials, to apply for the Promise Program scholarship, students need to apply to MTC and complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They said this can be done by attending one of the upcoming Fairfield Campus Enrollment events.