Deal unveils a new needs-based scholarship but it has limited REACH

The governor keeps rolling out new scholarships with catchy names. In addition to the Zell Miller Scholarship, Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the launch of a new needs-based college scholarship program, the REACH Scholarship (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen).

The reach of REACH won’t be too extensive to start with as the scholarship will be a pilot program in three counties and will be funded by private donations. Students will receive $2,500 a year for use at Georgia private and public colleges.

Still, it’s a help for the college students who qualify, and answers critics who contend that Georgia has shortchanged needy students.

Here is the press release on REACH:

At Georgia Tech, Deal kicked off an aggressive fund-raising campaign by announcing the REACH Scholarship’s first corporate sponsor, AT&T, which donated $250,000.

“The REACH Scholarship continues our state’s ongoing commitment to providing access to higher education for all Georgians, regardless of their income,” said Deal. “This scholarship will reward students for self accountability, promote parent involvement and provide motivation and support; all factors that we know are critical in student educational achievement.

“Contributions from companies such as AT&T are important to this effort. This gift demonstrates that AT&T understands the need to ensure that all Georgia students have access to post-secondary opportunities. We encourage other Georgia companies and citizens to get involved in this effort.”

REACH Scholars will be selected in middle school and will sign a contract to maintain a certain grade average, remain crime, drug, and behavior issue free and meet with a volunteer mentor until they graduate from high school. Their parents or guardians will also sign a contract to support their student through their education. Students who complete program requirements will receive a renewable yearly tuition scholarship of $2,500 to be used at any HOPE eligible institution. This amount will cover the average gap between other needs-based scholarships, such as Pell, and the full cost of attendance.

Identifying students and awarding scholarship money will happen at the local level, with each partner school district. Douglas, Rabun and Bulloch County School Systems will be the first to pilot the REACH Scholarship, with additional partner districts to come on board each year.

Deal also commended Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson for the institute’s commitment to match the REACH Scholarship award for any REACH Scholars that are accepted to and enroll at Georgia Tech and called for other institutions, public and private, to make similar pledges.

“I want to thank Dr. Peterson and his team for joining our quest to reward those who perform well in school and need extra help to ensure they are able to enroll in college,” he said. “I also encourage other campus leaders across the state to follow Georgia Tech’s lead in making this a successful program for years to come.”

The REACH Scholarship will be funded entirely with private dollars, and a 501(c)3 tax-exempt foundation has been established to spearhead fund-raising efforts. The foundation is housed at the Georgia Student Finance Commission, the state agency that provides financial aid to help Georgia students realize their higher education dreams.

“AT&T’s commitment to supporting education spans decades and continues today,” said Judy Agerton, regional vice president community affairs – AT&T Georgia. “The REACH Scholarship will open the door to a post-secondary education for at-risk youth in Georgia who may have not otherwise had an opportunity.”

Deal recognized the work of Dr. Howard Hinesley, superintendent of Cartersville City Schools, who brought this scholarship model to Georgia and to the attention of the Governor’s Office. Dr. Hinesley began a scholarship with this model while he was a superintendent in Florida, which scaled the program statewide.

The REACH Scholarship is part of Deal’s “Complete College Georgia” initiative, launched in August 2011. By 2018, more than 60 percent of job openings in Georgia will require some form of postsecondary education. Complete College Georgia is designed to increase the number of students with access to higher education and ensure that these students graduate with relevant postsecondary degrees in a timely manner.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

53 comments Add your comment

Ron F.

February 6th, 2012
2:03 pm

Okay, so let me get this straight. He sets up a “foundation”, no doubt run by one of his political friends at a hefty salary, to give out $2500 to needy kids? That won’t even pay tuition at a tech school for a year, let alone encourage the needy kids to go to college. How about managing the HOPE money better and putting the majority actually into college tuition awards? I wouldn’t turn down the money, but $2500 is all they get? Unfortunately this won’t help much for those kids who can’t qualify for Pell grants but don’t qualify for Zell Miller Scholarship status. It’s those in-between kids (middle-class) who end up with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.


February 6th, 2012
2:15 pm

“…regardless of their income.”
Does that mean all students are eligible?
“…maintain a certain grade point average…” What grade point average?
“…behavior issue free …” What does this mean? No detention? No suspension? No expulsion?

This program seems sufficiently vague.

Maureen Downey

February 6th, 2012
2:21 pm

@math, Not sure on your final questions, but I think the governor in his quote meant that regardless of low income, kids will not prevented from attending college.


February 6th, 2012
2:40 pm

Ron F and mathmom,
Did you READ and even TRY to understand the whole article?

I guess you want your little Bobbies to just simply be given EVERYTHING, and not have to work or earn one dayum thing!!!!!

Every little bit helps. Every person willing to lend a hand helps, especially in these times.

You two are probably the kind or parents who don’t even make sure little johnny behaves or does his school work.

News flash: The governor is establishing a scholarship fund.

the people: “WHINE, WHINE, WHINE, WHINE!”

No WONDER this state remains at the bottom in education!


February 6th, 2012
2:57 pm

This is still crap. This won’t help any students right now. I can’t even get HOPE because I graduated more than 7 years ago. I also don’t receive PELL, I make to much money. I don’t have kids to claim on my taxes. Maybe I should do like these other folks, and start claiming their sisters kids and just give her some of the money. I would qualify for PELL.
Oh, and lets not forget about the atheletes who go on scholorship and get the PELL and HOPE. They end up getting PAID to play football or other sports for the school, along with a FREE education, meal plans AND housing!


February 6th, 2012
2:59 pm

Should these scholarships, HOPE, MILLER and now REACH pay for private colleges/universities? How much is state actually giving to private colleges/universities? The money students get from these scholarships is not enough at private schools anyway – meaning the money isn’t really useful for students coming from economically struggling households. Why not focusing on helping those students attend affordable (for them and for tax payers) institutions? Perhaps we should pay 100% for those who attend the 2-year schools for their first 2 years instead of 4-year institutions where tuitions are higher. If they choose to attend a 4-year institutions, then just give them 70% for the first 2 years. I’m sure there are enough scholarships out there that can pay the difference for the well-qualified needy students.

A major reason state colleges and universities are raising tuitions is because the portion of their funding coming from the state has been declining. It used to be that “state” university/college meant state-sponsored. They became state-assisted. Now it isn’t much more than just “located in the state.”


February 6th, 2012
3:02 pm

@ Kat,

Maybe you should learn to play basketball or football. Although some of those student athletes may not be Rhode Scholars, they still earned the scholarships through their hard work – and God given talent.

Misty Fyed

February 6th, 2012
3:06 pm

Why is it people forget the other option of paying for college outside of tax payer or private donation assistance. It’s called work. You know…The actual goal of the degree anyway. Regardless of what is advertised by the media, companies actually do hire people without a degree. The even pay you a wage that can be used for things like tuition and books. It’s even good experience for the job you get after college.


February 6th, 2012
3:10 pm

@ Thomas… no doubt will they have to earn their grades. Hell, GSU is offering 2-3 tutors for their football players just to get them to pass.
A scholarship (HOPE, PELL or Grant) should be paid to the SCHOOL not the Student.
An athelete’s “payment” is a FREE college education. Most of the time they will graduate with a masters in pottery or general studies.


February 6th, 2012
3:18 pm

75 kids-whoopee! So HOPE can now be raided because “we are doing something for the poor kids.”

East Cobb Parent

February 6th, 2012
3:21 pm

Kat – I think you make a good point, the grant/scholarship should be paid to the school to help cover costs. I had a roommate after college. Even after receiving her degree, she continued to take one or two courses a semester and would receive her grant money. She worked for her parents under the table. She bought stereos, clothes, furniture etc with her money. She once told me she had no intention of ever re-paying her student loans.


February 6th, 2012
3:29 pm

Why even throw this bone to the entitlement-addicted liberals? They are going to complain until the government (ie those of us who pay taxes) pony up enough dollars to allow them to go to school for free. Yet another entitlement program. As for HOPE, I understand that now the push is on to make it needs based rather than performance based, thereby creating another entitlement for the people who are already sucking this community dry (look at MARTA and Grady). The bottom line is this, you have a right to a free education through high school. After that, you foot your own bill. Don’t continue to try and get someone else to give you a free education. We taxpayers are sick of entitlement programs.

To the Anonymous clown.

February 6th, 2012
3:35 pm

Since when has the middle class been given anything. Its undoubtably idiots like u that prevent the country from moving forward as a WHOLE. We all live here and have to deal with one another. If u want the crime rate to stay down in your area clown, then u better vote towards equality.


February 6th, 2012
3:38 pm

This is not the “whole” story. What about the requirement that in the future, school districts will be required to raise private funds to support these scholarships unless this requirement was lifted since the beginning when they were trying to find school systems to sign on? This is not mentioned, is it?

Not Hard to Analyze

February 6th, 2012
3:49 pm

The poor people are the ones that play the lottery and the rich reap the benefits. There should be an income cap as the original scholarship stated. Governor Deal knows this but he is avoiding the real problem. Upper income people will send their kids to college whether the HOPE scholarship is available or not!


February 6th, 2012
3:58 pm

No, doubt I am an older college student. I’ve been in engineering for almost 20 years. With the way the economy turned, I had to go back to school. I was placed on part-time. I decided to go back to school. I went to a 2 year college. I pay for everything out of my own pocket. I am THE taxpayer everyone is talking about, but I’m going to be the one taking out school loans just to finish.
It cost 4x the amount to go to UGA or GT or even KSU. I just wish you could hear these students just last week talking about how much money they got back from their PELL. Some of these girls was getting $1600 a semester! The damage they was going to do at the mall and they are saving some to go on vacation to Cancun or the Bahamas.
Pfft. yes, it does piss me off. Entitlement programs.


February 6th, 2012
4:00 pm

When did higher education become a right? We have HOPE let them earn that. I am with Mitt…it is time to worry about the Middle Class. Middle Class has to pay for their education and the poors and still gets screwed no matter what they do.

Ron F.

February 6th, 2012
4:01 pm

anonymous- actually I’m a veteran teacher (off today with sick child). While I think it is incumbent on children and families to appreciate and participate in the payment for an education, let’s face it- most colleges are out of the price range of most families without trust funds or rich uncles. I expect my children to be given nothing- they know they have to earn it, and their grades reflect. In fact, my oldest is planning on dual enrollment next year so that he can have his first two years of college done by the time his peers are graduating from high school. Now unless you have some magic formula for bringing college costs under control, the old idea of working to pay for it won’t work. When I could pay $500 a quarter at Georgia State, it was feasible. Nowadays that won’t even buy the books.


February 6th, 2012
4:01 pm

Wow! They really want to keep that lottery-funded machine running to incentivize corporations to come to Georgia, huh? REACH is stupid. What’s $2500 going to do for some kid that’s poor if he cannot come up with the rest of the money? You think that every poor kid with good grades get the Pell Grant? Really???

How about this? Let’s return the HOPE scholarship to a needs-based program and you can make REACH a strictly merit-based program! That sounds FANTASTIC!


February 6th, 2012
4:34 pm

doesnt matter how much scholarship money is available, many of these kids will be back home less than a year because they are not equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in a post secondary education.

Sick of repulse

February 6th, 2012
4:53 pm

Let the scapegoating of the poor (the people who actually play the friggin lottery en masse) begin

William Casey

February 6th, 2012
4:59 pm

Could be wrong, but don’t see REACH accomplishing much. I’ll reserve judgement on that. However, I’m tired of the tedious argument that HOPE is an entitlement. Please define “Entitlement.” My son graduated from Northview HS with a 3.71 average and 27 hours of AP credit.. He’s maintained a 3.65 GPA at Ga. Southern, taking overloads every semester and keeping HOPE and then ZELL. He works as a tutor 15 hours per week. He will graduate in May 2013 with TWO degrees in mathematics and philosophy. BTW, his Mom and I will have contributed $25,000 to the cause, $ we began saving in 1992. Where’s the entitlement? The three of us have WORKED toward this accomplishment for years. HOPE was nice, but all it really did was allow my son to graduate without $15-20K of student debt.


February 6th, 2012
5:01 pm

So the $250,000 donation, probably with the understanding that there will be a substantial tax break for it, will sit for for 4-5 years to accumulate, and provide some family member “director” money for the phase in to “oversee” the process.

Gov Dealess

February 6th, 2012
5:08 pm

As the leading jerk in our great state in this Lords year of 1950, I promise these awards will go to needy connected kids that can ill afford their BMW’s and the high cost of school. First criteria will be if the needy student has a family member in the Chamber of Commerse, and then second if they are connected to the insruance industry or road builders. As you are aware due to our great judicial system rich kids have no records. God bless Georgia and Karen Handler the greatest American we have today.


February 6th, 2012
5:09 pm

Sounds to me like Deal is basically admitting that his “enduring hope” plan from last year isn’t going to work; And, that he will do anything to keep from actually working with the Democrats to really fix HOPE.


February 6th, 2012
5:20 pm

As usual, more handouts and welfare. Love this free enterprise economy we have. Just call it more white guilt because we all know who will be getting this money – and where the money will end up – at the end of a pipe.


February 6th, 2012
5:24 pm

Poor people play the lottery because they are stupid not because they are poor. And of course they are poor because they are stupid.


February 6th, 2012
5:36 pm

As usual, my parents, and many similar, work themselves to death day in and day out to write a $6000 check to the University of Georgia every semester, while those who don’t know the meaning of hard work get all the money… what a wonderful world we live in. Why don’t you try fixing the HOPE scholarship, Mr. Governor, instead of throwing more money at the poor? But it might be too much to ask for you to help middle-class Americans.


February 6th, 2012
5:41 pm

really??? is this the best he could come up with? this is a joke.


February 6th, 2012
5:51 pm

Combo of guilt for his killing HOPE and political spin to claim no one will denied an education. It also shows Deal thinks their are a lot of dumb people in Ga. who will swallow that bunk. His parents, both teachers, would roll over in their graves if they knew what he and his buds are doing to public education. Bad son.


February 6th, 2012
6:05 pm

So REACH will be funded by private donations, mostly Coprorate no doubt. Wiil these donations be in the same spirt as those drug companies who give money to medical school students in return for their using only these same drug companies when they become doctors?


February 6th, 2012
6:44 pm

Since when can a minor be bound by a contract? And will the state prosecute kids who violate the terms of the agreement? Maybe, this will pump new life into HOPE by assessing a financial penalty to those who can’t REACH.

NWGA Teacher

February 6th, 2012
6:50 pm

This is shameful. Fix HOPE.

Jerry Eads

February 6th, 2012
6:55 pm

On the face of it, whether such was the actual intent, this tiny program would appear to serve to attempt to lessen pressure to change HOPE criteria now biased to fund high income students who (a) will be more likely to receive high grades and (b) don’t need the funding, EXCEPT it may be that such funding helps retain upper income students in state. It would also help the state’s bimmer and jag dealers who will supply cars to these kids with the revenue that would have otherwise paid for tuition.


February 6th, 2012
7:20 pm

Deal’s dealing here. He knows HOPE is done and hasn’t the backbone to tell us. The laws of unintended consequences kicked in big time when Zell started HOPE. Little did he know, or maybe he did, that state schools would raise their tuitions astronomically to get as much lottery money as they could get their hands on every year. “Grab it while you can or somebody else will” became the motto in Athens. When the HOPE scholarship dies, UGA is in some big trouble. Their dorms are packed for a reason; free education. Once that goes away, lots of kids will go elsewhere. Why should I pay 30K a year to send my kid to a school like UGA, when I KNOW my kid will get a much better education at a small private college for the same money.

Cory's Irony

February 6th, 2012
7:40 pm

Cory, do you really understand what irony means?

You write “As usual, my parents, and many similar, work themselves to death day in and day out to write a $6000 check to the University of Georgia every semester, while those who don’t know the meaning of hard work get all the money…”

…while those of US who don’t know the meaning of hard work get all the money…

Cory, do you realize you are talking about yourself?

While your parents work hard to pay for college, you pay nothing.

I’m delighted your parents have worked hard. I praise them for it….but how did hardworking parents like yours raise a son who is so….so….snotty?

You belitle the poor because you say they didn’t earn it…yet you sit back and take your parents hard-earned dollars. I didn’t hear that your parents were rich and could well afford it…I heard you say they worked really hard for it…

…and what did you do for that money, Cory?

Not a darn thing.

Do you realize how you sound to we adults who work hard for our kids and who wored hard to put OURSELVES through college?

I got a merit scholarship and I had three jobs (at times at the same time) to get myself a degree, then graduated with debt and I worked to pay that off..

What did YOU do to earn the money it takes to pay for college. My mother earned $12,000 a year, Cory. Yet, your parents are able to save that much a year for you to go to college and grow up to be…

a snot nosed brat.


Ron F.

February 6th, 2012
8:06 pm

Georgia is doing basically what Florida did with lottery proceeds. Bleed them dry and then blame it on too many kids going to college. Deal wants control of the cash cow of the lottery for his buddies and pet projects. This new program is just a lot of smoke and mirrors for his corporate buddies to get a nice tax deductible donation and a job for one of their kids to run it. But hey, we voted for the guy knowing he was a swindler because he had an R by his name. I just gotta hang on to make at least 25 so I can hope to get something out of my pension fund before Raw Deal gets ahold of that money too.

To Ron F from Good Ma

February 6th, 2012
8:34 pm

I completely agree with you, Ron. Tuition just started to skyrocket my last two years in college. It is literally impossible for kids to work their way through college now and it wasn’t an option then either I worked minimum wage jobs mostly full time and went to school full time. EVen with a Pell Grant, an all tuition paid scholarship, a student loan and three jobs, I still graduated with debt from a state school way back then.

Hope Didn't Create Skyrocketing Tuition

February 6th, 2012
8:41 pm

I disagree that Hope created the skyrocketing tuition costs. Tuition costs have skyrocketed all over the United States in both private and public schools. Other states do not have Hope so that can’t be the reason for the high tuition costs.

High tuition is a real problem but blaming Hope won’t fix it. The same argument could be made for student loans — that if students couldn’t borrow money to go to college, then colleges would be forced to lower tuition and we know that isn’t true. No one here is arguing against student loan availaility.

We all have a valid gripe — tuition costs need to be affordable for everyone who wants to and can do college work.

Ron F.

February 6th, 2012
8:42 pm

GM- how much was tuition when you were in college? I’m showing my age here, but in the early 80’s it was a whole heck of a lot less than now. Working three jobs now at or near minimum wage won’t make a dent in tuition in many colleges.


February 6th, 2012
8:44 pm

There is never enough for liberals – no matter how new or much. They ALWAYS want/demand more.

chronologically gifted

February 6th, 2012
9:22 pm

Ron F.,

Early 80’s is 30 years ago…How much was gasoline back then? About $.75/gallon? How much was the MARTA fare? $.50?


February 6th, 2012
9:25 pm

I guess I’m “old school”, but my wife and I and our two kids all graduated from college. We did it the old fashion way – we worked! One kid received scholarship money; both worked. No Pell, no HOPE, no Federal Student Loans, no debt – just worked, saved and didn’t go when we didn’t have the money.

I understand that the percentage of Georgians who graduate from college is low by national norms, but money is not the problem! There is too little respect for and commitment to education. The public colleges in the State of Georgia are a bargain. If you don’t believe it, look at surrounding states. The HOPE was conceptually brilliant, but disastrous in implementation. It is nothing more than another entitlement!

It has been poorly managed by the State. So, let’s start anothter program! Programs! Programs! Programs!

Every self-respecting college in the state has a foundation where they receive gifts and establish endowments for the benefit of students who attend their college. ATT should give their money to these foundations and keep the State out of it.

Entitlements never foster accountability! Make the student borrow the money from HOPE. Cancel the deft if they graduate. Otherwise, they pay it back. Students will appreciate what they earn! They will never appreciate the entitlement.


February 6th, 2012
9:39 pm

This is totally a political move. As I said before, look at the fine print and what the governor isn’t telling everyone. We said, “No, thank you. We can’t obligate our system for this future criteria.” I’m, also, going to take up for Cory. If all his parents are paying is $6000. per semester then he is having to contribute to his education some way.


February 6th, 2012
9:40 pm

HAHA, he strongarms AT&T then gets credit for creating this!!!??? OMG, hahahaha.

Like I said before...

February 6th, 2012
9:50 pm

Centrist…I don’t think liberals want or demand more I think there are a group of people out here that know $2500 is not going to put a dent into a college education, public or private. Keep this shallow gesture and fix HOPE. The part I have an issue with is the 2.5 gpa part. Why is the bar being set low for lower income kids. Their parents don’t have a lot of money but that doesn’t mean they are stupid. I thought the point of an education was to grow and to stretch. A “C” is hardly applying oneself.

Catching MITT

February 7th, 2012
12:41 am

This is Bush’s fault!


February 7th, 2012
5:59 am


Misdirection. Smoke and mirrors. Oldest trick in the book.

The magician focuses your attention on the scantily clad assistants while the elephant slips through the curtain in back.

Anyone who can balance a checkbook knows this scholarship will hardly make a dent in the exploding cost of tuition. But as long as it is being funded by donations, what is the harm? Right?

A few years down the road, when the donations cannot keep pace with the college presidents insatiable desire for more money, taxpayers will be forced to step in to “save the poor kids scholarship”.

You are witnessing the birth of yet another entitlement.

No, what Deal should be doing is assigning a task force of auditors and economists to ascertain why UGA’s in-state/out-of-state tuitions rose by 156%/138% in ten years while the rate of inflation during that period was only 27%. What drove that dramatic increase that is drying up HOPE and pricing many out of college?

Or, as any emergency room doctor will tell you, you’ve got to first stop the bleeding….


February 7th, 2012
6:38 am

Colin said: “The bottom line is this, you have a right to a free education through high school. After that, you foot your own bill. Don’t continue to try and get someone else to give you a free education. We taxpayers are sick of entitlement programs”. Wow! so if a student manage to get good grades and graduate fro H.S. they don’t have the right to get help to attend college? So why is it people who make over 150k still have their kids receiving Hope when they can afford to pay for it?