Trident Tech helps ‘everyone’ go to college
Trident Technical College has been leading the way in incorporating college level classes into high schools in the Lowcountry. And while this may not be for every student, Trident believes that every student who wants to take part should be able to do so, regardless of affordability.
Consequently, it will pay the way for those students who qualify for subsidized lunch in public schools.
Melissa Stowasser, director of high school programs at Trident, says that since the 1990s, Trident has had programs for high school students. Some involve the students taking college courses at Trident, some, in partnership with high schools, involve special programs, honor colleges and some, like Dorchester District Two’s new Early College dual degree program, happen within the normal high school setting.
DD2 began its new program last week. And every student who qualified has been able to go, thanks to Trident’s scholarship support, which helps approximately 37 percent of DD2s first dual degree class.
In addition to tuition assistance, The Trident Technical College Foundation has provided textbooks and materials through its Steinberg Book Fund.
Stowasser says the book fund came about a number of years ago after she got a call from a high school administrator asking to have one of its students withdrawn from the Spanish class they were taking. When she asked why, she was told it was because the student couldn’t afford the textbook.
“Textbooks can run $200 each,” she said, “and that is beyond a lot of kid’s ability to pay. So we started the book fund and we have worked with the publishers to get them to donate 20 to 25 textbooks each year to our lending library and student can borrow the books for the semester.”
They are even allowed to highlight and make notes in margins, the theory being that those notes will help the next student.
“If you are a college student,” Stowasser explained, “you have financial aid options like FAFSA and Pell but if you are a high school student you don’t qualify. What we do is take their financial information and if they have qualified for subsidized school lunch, we can send them directly to Lottery funds and so forth.”
In 2012-2013, the foundation/fund spent $65,000 on books and materials (not including book donations), for students in the Tri-county area and have helped 580 students, said David Hansen, Trident PIO.