Getting College Aid in Georgia
Your Degree Doesn't Have to Cost You So Much
There are over 100 colleges and universities located in Georgia. The mix consists of public, private and community/technical institutions offering four-year, two-year and certificate programs. The Georgia Student Finance Commission administers scholarships, grants and special funding programs.
General Scholarships and Grants
The Georgia HOPE program is funded by the state lottery program and offers three options for Georgia students:
- The Georgia HOPE Scholarship offers those students who have proven a solid academic career and are pursuing a college program at either a public or private institution in the state. Students must continue to achieve academic standards and adhere to other program criteria. Eligible candidates may receive up to the cost of tuition at a public institution and up to $1500 a semester at a private institution.
- The HOPE Grant is designed for those students with a significant level of financial need. Students who do not complete a FAFSA must apply directly for consideration to the HOPE Grant program.
- For students who do not earn a traditional diploma, but eventually earn a GED, the HOPE program awards a one-time $500 HOPE GED Voucher. The small grant is intended to help defray tuition costs at a state college, university or technical school.
So you're a junior or senior in high school and already wanting to find funding for college courses. Georgia sponsors the Accel Program designed just for you. For the right academically talented students the Accel Program offers funding for "dual-credit" college courses. In other words, you are so ahead of the class that you can take college courses before you even graduate from high school. That way you already have a head start on things. The program is valid for courses at any Georgia college, university or technical school. Eligible high school students receive grants that cover tuition costs plus a book stipend.
Not all students wish to attend public colleges and universities, so to provide incentive to study at home Georgia's Tuition Equalization Grant Program provides a way to make it more affordable for residents to study at their choice of private college or university. The unique twist on Georgia's program is that not only are in-state private schools applicable, but students may also attend a private school outside the state if it is within 50 miles of their permanent residence. In other words, applicable colleges would have to be just over the shared border with Georgia in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina or South Carolina.
It seems that nearly every state wishes to keep its most academically talented students close to home. Those who choose to study at an in-state college or university are more likely to remain living and working in the state. The more academic talent that can be launched into the economic fabric of a state the more vital the state becomes in the long run. The Governor's Scholarship Program is purely a merit-based program. Top students may receive close to $1000 annually to study at a Georgia public college or university.
The renowned Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship is the federally funded merit-based program that recognizes the efforts of the top tier of academically talented students. Each year dozens of high school seniors are chosen for their GPA, ACT/SAT scores and other associated academic criteria as determined from state to state. Almost 200 Georgia students are chosen as recipients for the Byrd award each year. Students may not apply, but must be nominated by school officials. Eligible recipients must be accepted at a four-year, full time degree program at any college or university in the United States. The only exceptions are those students who will attend a military academy.
Are you a dependent of a police officer, firefighter or other public safety officer who was killed or wounded while performing their duties? If so you may qualify for tuition waivers at state colleges and universities:
- Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant
- Public Safety Memorial Grant
Specialized Studies Programs
There are consistently a number of professions that continue to suffer shortages, such health professions and education professionals. In response to critical shortages, most states offer a number of scholarships, grants and loan repayment/forgiveness programs as incentives. The goal is to provide program tuition in exchange for work in their fields, especially in areas of need, often urban or rural facilities.
Georgia residents enrolled in a teaching program at an in-state institution or planning on pursuing the career should check out these state-funded programs:
- The Charles McDaniel Teacher Scholarship provides an award to academically outstanding students each year who are planning on pursuing an education degree program. Eligible students must be enrolled in a public college or university within the state and maintain a GPA of 3.25 or above. The scholarship awards a one-time $1000 gift to just a few qualified students.
- The PROMISE Teacher Scholarship provides up to $3000 per academic year to juniors or seniors in an approved education program. Eligible students must have 3.0 GPAs and be willing exchange grant money for teaching in the state public school system following graduation.
- The Destination Teacher Program is an incentive program that encourages professionals and career changers to pursue a new career in teaching. This is a fairly new program and not every institution participates, but eligible students may receive up to $5000 toward tuition costs. In return graduates teach in underserved public school facilities.
- HOPE Teacher Scholarships provide funding for graduate level teaching students.
- The Agriculture Education Teaching Program is a specialized teaching program. Recipients must be studying to teach agricultural education and must be willing to exchange tuition grants for work in that specific subject area within the state.
- See other national teaching scholarships.
Nursing students will find loan forgiveness programs available for registered nurse programs, nurse educators and nurses entering "high-demand" areas. In all instances recipients must be willing to exchange very attractive tuition grants for career stints in their field. Recipients may be asked to serve in underserved areas:
- Northeast Georgia Health Systems Nurse Program is a solution for the apparently short supply of RNs in Northeastern Georgia.
- Registered Nurse Program is designed to offer training to more RNs in response to hospital staffing shortages.
- Not only are working nurses in critical shortages, but nurse educators are not enough in number to train all the potential nursing candidates. Graduate level nurses interested in teaching may be eligible for the Nursing Faculty Program.
- See other national nursing scholarships.
Students studying in a health professions field may qualify for the Allied Health Career Program. Qualifying individuals must be pursuing a profession in an "approved critical field."
Other careers that may qualify for "service cancelable" loans and grants are Engineering, Social Work, and the Military.
Complete information is available at GACollege411.org, which partners with many state government education bodies for a complete Georgia education resource.