Georgia moves to add 250,000 college grads by 2020

5:38 PM, Sep 12, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- A new college initiative is being introduced in the state of Georgia and it's designed to add 250,000 additional graduates from the state's 52 colleges, universities and technical schools by 2020.

That's when economists predict 60 percent of Georgia jobs will require more than a high school education.

The program, "Complete College Georgia," includes a $1-million foundation grant from Complete College America for on-campus remedial courses designed to save students money and set a clear path toward their graduation.

Another focus of the program is to start early to make sure students know what financial obligations could lay ahead.

Financial advisors at Kennesaw State University say 80 percent of their student body receives financial aid.

"We are becoming more and more proactive in communicating with our students, trying to reach out to them earlier in the process," said Sarah Baumhoff, Associate Director of Financial Aid at Kennesaw State.

She says financial advisors will talk to students, "one-on-one, or in a classroom setting as to what their options are; what they have to pay; how they can keep track of what they are spending; and how to monitor how much they have borrowed so they will be successful and graduate."

Similar initiatives are underway at the University of Georgia, where graduation rates have jumped almost 10 percent to more than 80 percent over the last 5 years.

Educators agree that a clear way to encourage Georgia students to start and finish college is through REACH, a privately funded need based scholarship program.

"Identify students in middle school, much earlier than we have before; assign them with a mentor and provide academic help; ask them to sign a contract, keep grades up above a C-average; and have no behavioral or discipline issues while in middle school or high school. When they graduate from high school they receive a college scholarship," said Kristin Bernhard, Education Policy Advisory to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.

The scholarship can be used at any school that's part of the State's Hope Scholarship program.

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