Career and College Promise A College Savings Plan For High School Students

The Career and College Promise (CCP) Program at McDowell Tech is a guaranteed college savings plan. Eligible CCP students may take up to two years of FREE college classes while they are still in high school, saving themselves and their parents thousands of dollars off the cost of tuition, fees and room and board and avoiding overwhelming mounds of student loan debt.

Katie DeHart is one of those wise CCP students who now has an affordable path to a college degree. And she’s proud of her decision to enroll in Career and College Promise classes at McDowell Tech a couple of years ago. “It has saved me a ton of money,” she said. “And my parents love that!”

Katie DeHart and Dawson Bartlett CCP Students

When DeHart graduates from high school in June 2022, she will also receive her Associate in Arts degree and a Certificate in Accounting from McDowell Tech, with her and her parents, Kristi and Greg DeHart, only paying minimal student fees along the way at MTCC. Approximately 65 college credits earned. No lost opportunity costs.  Free from student-loan debt.

But the savings will not end with FREE tuition at McDowell Tech. CCP students who apply themselves and make good grades in their CCP classes often receive scholarships and grants to help defray the cost of college attendance.

That is exactly the case for DeHart. Earlier this year, she applied to the Social Work program at Wingate University and was quickly accepted. The average cost of attendance at Wingate is $53,606 per year, according to information from the United States Department of Education’s IPED’s Data Center (2018).

However, when she recently received notice of her financial aid award package from Wingate, she was excited to learn that she and her parents would only owe about $7,000 to attend college next year.

Beyond the financial savings, Katie has also shaved two years off the time it would normally take to earn a bachelor’s degree by earning dozens of college credits through the CCP program at McDowell Tech. In fact, she is going to try to take extra classes each semester at Wingate, possibly allowing her to complete her degree in one-and-a-half years. If she accomplishes that goal, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree while she is still under 20 years old.

Although there’s no particular reason she wants to graduate from Wingate at such a young age, Katie says that she’d just like to be able to say she did it. That’s one of the differences between an average teenager and many CCP students: savings mentality, motivation, perseverance and work ethic. Katie seems to have all four characteristics.

She is not alone in making good choices. A growing number of students, including many of her friends, are making similar choices these days. Her friends Atley Banks and Carly Lyons, for example, are also four-year college-bound next fall after participating in McDowell Tech’s CCP program during their high school career. Atley will be attending Gardner Webb University, while Carly will study architecture at NC State. Katie’s boyfriend, Dawson Bartlett, is also enrolled in the CCP program at McDowell Tech, studying Welding under Clay Dowdle.

Katie’s long-term goal is to become a licensed clinical social worker, working with both children and adults. “I love helping people,” she said. “I feel good when I help children and parents in need.” Even with her busy academic schedule, Katie makes time to work with children every week. She serves as an assistant teacher at Above the Barre Dance and Gymnastics in Marion and is a Children’s Church Teacher at New Horizon Baptist Church each Sunday. Until last year, she was also a cheerleader at McDowell High School, and in her “spare time,” she is Social Media Coordinator for her church, managing their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

“I would definitely recommend the Career and College Promise Program to other high school students,” said Katie. “People at the college are super easy to work with, the teachers and administrators are so nice and all of them are willing to help you in any way they can. Interestingly enough, I took most of my classes online, except for Spanish I and Biology. You definitely have to be motivated to take mostly online classes, but it worked well for me. This year, I haven’t had to attend in-person classes at the high school or McDowell Tech, and I like that.”

“Students like Katie and her friends have countless opportunities ahead due to their decision to enroll in the CCP program. Enrolling in a four-year college with dozens of earned credits will allow them to take advantage of experience such as study abroad, internships, or preparation for graduate school while not overloading themselves with coursework along the way,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “We appreciate our secondary partners that collaborate with us to set students on career pathways to success.”

To apply for the CCP Program, visit