One hundred and ten recent graduates of New Haven high schools got a congratulatory video message from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Thursday.

The occasion: they are the first recipients of college scholarships through New Haven Promise. Duncan’s message was part of a ceremony at Sprague Hall in which University President Richard Levin joined city and state officials to praise the college-bound students, donning their graduation caps and gowns.

In order to qualify for the scholarships, which fund up to 25 percent of tuition costs at in-state public colleges and universities and up to $625 at private schools, the students had to earn at least a 3.0 GPA, have a 90 percent attendance record, complete 10 hours of community service and demonstrate good behavior. Funding will reach 100 percent of tuition costs at public schools and $2500 at private schools by the time rising high school sophomores graduate.

“This first class of New Haven Promise scholars has demonstrated hard work, academic excellence, commitment to community and ambition for the future and as a result of that earned their scholarships,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said at the ceremony Thursday.

Of the 372 high school seniors who applied for Promise scholarships in its inaugural year, 151 qualified, of which 110 accepted scholarships. In order to maintain their scholarships, the students will have to keep their college GPA above 2.5.

“We have confidence that they will take full advantage of the extraordinary opportunity before them by setting high goals, working hard and achieving at a high level,” said Will Ginsberg, president of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, which is administering New Haven Promise.

New Haven Promise was announced Nov. 9, 2010 at a ceremony at the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School. Yale funds the scholarships to the tune of $4 million per year within seven years.