CVCC High School Partnership Saves Families $1 Million; Makes College Possible

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Research conducted by Catawba Valley Community College recently revealed that the college will collectively save 300 families of high school students enrolled in its Promise Scholars Initiative $1.3 million this academic year.

The Promise Scholars Initiative allows academically qualified high school students the opportunity to earn college credits and get a head start on their college/post-secondary preparation tuition free.  This is available through the Career and College Promise (CCP) program authorized by the State Board of Education and the State Board of Community Colleges and permits high school students to be dual enrolled in college courses while also earning high school credits either on the community college’s campus or through online courses.

Three years ago; however, CVCC put a unique twist on things and launched a unique hybrid program called Promise Scholars Initiative that brought CVCC faculty to teach on the high school campus. The initiative began with 22 Alexander Central High School seniors.

CVCC faculty teach juniors and seniors college-level classes on their high school campuses. Students may earn up to 32 credit hours of college work in two years tuition free while using loaned textbooks. 

“I won’t say it was easy to put together, but I will say that every entity involved was committed to building a workable program,” said Dr. Keith Mackie, CVCC Executive Vice President of Instruction. “We were united in our goal of eliminating barriers to college.”

Dr. Mackie pointed out the dedication it took from the high school counselors and principals in each of the four school systems to launch the Promise Scholars Initiative. And it took a lot of creative scheduling on our (CVCC’s) part as well as each of the high schools.

“Partnership is the key to success for our college and our four local school systems in Catawba and Alexander counties,” said CVCC President Dr. Garrett D. Hinshaw. “The ability to increase college access and minimize debt is a win for everyone involved.”

One of the bigger obstacles the partners faced was finding a way to provide textbooks at no cost to the families.  Any college student or family of one can attest to the extraordinary cost of textbooks, which is often equal to or exceeds, tuition. Each of the school systems and the CVCC Foundation, Inc., developed a way to underwrite the costs and establish a textbook repository housed at and managed by CVCC Library staff. This unique partnership allows students from all four school systems to share textbooks and greatly reduces costs to students and each of the four school systems.   


According to the University of North Carolina system website ( 2016-2017 tuition and fees information, the average cost of tuition and fees for 12 or more credit hours is approximately $3500.  Were the 300 Promise Scholars students currently enrolled at CVCC enrolled at a North Carolina Public University their families would be spending well over $1 million. In addition, there are textbook purchases that are an added factor in the cost of a college education.

Over a period of three years, the initiative has expanded from its first venture with Alexander Central High to every high school in all four school systems served by CVCC: Catawba County Public Schools, Newton-Conover Public Schools, Hickory Public Schools and Alexander County Public Schools.

For more information about the Promise Scholars Initiative at CVCC, contact Brice Melton at 327-7000 ext. 4128 or