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Governor proposes free community college promise

READ MORE: Governor proposes free community college promise
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Getting an associate's degree may soon become a little easier to afford. In last night's State of the State address, Gov. Bev Perdue proposed a "Career and College Promise" that guarantees a free community college education to some North Carolina students.

The governor said high school juniors who sign up for the promise, meet certain criteria and maintain a good GPA will earn an associate's degree at no cost.

"The students of the Career and College Promise will have a new reason to stay in school, because for what may be the first time for many of them or their families they will have a clear, attainable path to success," Perdue said during her speech.

It's a promise that has some students intrigued.

"I would take the opportunity, because I have a good GPA, and it's not cheap to go to college these days," New Hanover High School student Victoria Warren said. "That would help my family out a lot."

Fellow student Tyler Alston agreed.

"It would make me try harder to keep my grades up, because I would have a better opportunity," Alston said.

Perdue's "Career and College Promise," if set in stone, could give high school students a new incentive to stay in school. It could also greatly impact community colleges all over the state, like Cape Fear Community College.

"Because we would be having additional students come in, we would have a demand for more faculty to be able to offer the services and classes needed to accommodate those additional students," CFCC spokesman David Hardin said.

Hardin said if the promise does take effect, CFCC would have to deal with accommodating all the new students.

"Having additional students coming in right out of high school would be a good problem to have," he said.

Perdue originally announced the College Promise initiative two years ago. She said that by consolidating existing programs and nurturing partnerships between high schools and community colleges, a college degree will be more affordable than ever.

"These are going to be the students who will be the workers, who will fill our 21st century industries and workplaces," Perdue said. "The North Carolina Career and College Promise will set them on the path to a career of college degree."

But how do you pay for such a program when the state already faces a multi-billion-dollar deficit? The governor's staff says the program will use existing programs and will cost no new money.

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