You can’t say Nathan Deal doesn’t listen to his critics.
Apparently stung by all the laments from cash-strapped families affected by the reductions to the HOPE program, the governor has a new idea, but it will take years to culminate. The program would use private funds to provide need-based college aid to worthy and qualified students identified in middle school.
I wasn’t sure exactly what the program entailed so I asked the reporter, higher ed writer Laura Diamond, to explain a bit more: “It will be something that will happen for current middle school students once they get to college. The idea is students will be identified in middle school and then — provided they maintain decent grades and stay out of trouble– they’ll get college scholarships.”
Laura said she had more questions but the governor’s rep, Erin Hames, declined to elaborate until the official news release next month. The biggest question is the source of enough private funding to power a statewide program of this nature.
According to AJC story that Laura wrote today:
The program won’t benefit current college students, but it will pledge financial support to middle school students so they will be motivated to finish high school and go to college, Erin Hames, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for policy, said Tuesday.
Deal will unveil the program and provide more details next month, she said. She briefly mentioned the program during the first meeting of a commission tasked with developing a new funding formula for Georgia’s public colleges. That commission is part of a statewide effort to help more Georgians earn a college degree.
The new scholarship will be privately funded, Hames said, adding the state is studying existing programs in Florida and Cartersville schools.
The program will target low-income students, with a preference for those who would be the first in their family to attend college, she said. Students will be required to maintain high grades and sign contracts promising to stay out of trouble. Students will be paired with mentors who will help them prepare for and apply to college, she said.
Georgia has provided HOPE, a merit-based scholarship, since 1993. More than 256,000 students went to college through the lottery-funded program last year.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog