Durham Tech works to give its students the tools to do great things, and one of the latest initiatives to make that possible for more students from more walks of life is the “Durham Tech Promise” program.

The Durham Tech Promise program is all about making college affordable, reducing tuition by as much as half for eligible students,” said Dr. Christine Kelly-Kleese, vice president of student engagement, development and support at Durham Tech. “It provides up to $1,000 each year for two years for students who are eligible. That means in-state students who take a full time, 12 credit hour course load would pay about half of the tuition.”

Aaron Keck, Dr. Kelly-Kleese and Ava Rountree

The Promise program is designed to shift focus for students at Durham Tech away from the cost of education and toward maintaining academic excellence and setting themselves up for success in the future.

“We see it as a way to build up upward economic mobility for students and their families in our area,” said Kelly-Kleese. “We are focused primarily on this, the importance of this being what we call a ‘first-dollar’ scholarship. So many of the promise programs around the country are what are known as ‘last-dollar’ scholarships. ‘First-dollar’ means the money’s coming — thanks to the Durham and Orange County commissioners — to go right into the hands of recent high school graduates. It goes on their accounts, to cover tuition and fees and books directly. That means that all of the students are getting it … We’re making sure that students who most need the money aren’t inadvertently kept from getting the benefit of it by having it be a ‘last-dollar’ scholarship.”

The Durham Tech promise is available to any recent high school graduate of Durham County, and any recent graduate of a public high school in Chapel Hill/Carrboro and Orange County Schools. Students also have no requirement to apply — the Durham Tech financial aid office reviews student records and contact those who qualify.

You can listen to the full interview with Dr. Kelly-Kleese and Ava Rountree — a student at Durham Tech and Promise recipient — below, and learn more about how Durham Tech students are doing great things here.


Each month we will profile a “Do Great Things” initiative from Durham Tech with in-studio guest interviews and interactive articles on Chapelboro.com. This feature showcases some of the inspiring initiatives and programs at Durham Tech that make our community proud.