Central Carolina Technical College's links with local school districts, including Sumter School District, to offer free tuition to high school graduates have become popular and well established, but not everybody knows about what opportunities exist for older, non-traditional students.
Tiffany Wilson, the college's director of financial aid and veterans' affairs, said numerous opportunities exist right now if a student is enrolled at least "half time," or six credit hours. According to the college's enrollment data, about 60 percent of CCTC's students are 22 or older - either pursuing second careers or going to college for the first time.
Wilson said most students at the college, regardless of their age or educational background, are eligible for state lottery assistance, which covers about two-thirds of tuition costs.
If an adult has never been to college, most are eligible for state and federal financial aid through the Pell Grant program. The program covers most college expenses at the school.
The college also has a philanthropic arm, or foundation, from which donations can be used to help cover other students' expenses that may be incurred, such as books.
Additionally, Watson said this year the college has received a surge in scholarship funding from the state Legislature for students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. It covers students pursuing careers in CCTC's programs in computer technology, health sciences and industrial and engineering technology.
The college's computer technology programs include website development and computer specialist, among others. Health sciences programs at CCTC include nursing, medical assistant and surgical technology, among others. The industry and engineering programs at Central Carolina include welding, machine tool, automotive technology and mechatronics (advanced manufacturing and robotics).
Wilson said that funding has kept her busy this year and helped many students in STEM programs who are enrolled at least "half time."
"We want to take away any financial burden for students and see they have education opportunities available to them," Wilson said.
Wilson said the one-time funding for students was called Workforce Pathways STEM Scholarships. She said the college hasn't expended all the funding yet and plans to be able to roll it over for the fall semester to help additional students.