Georgia colleges, universities agree to match REACH scholarship

Gov. Nathan Deal recently announced that more Georgia universities and colleges have agreed to match funds for Georgia’s new needs-based REACH Scholarship program.

Deal said the privately funded REACH Scholarship will be awarded to any REACH student throughout the state who is accepted and enrolls in the following schools: Georgia Southern University, Life University and 11 member campuses of the Georgia Independent College Association (GICA) have joined in this partnership alongside Georgia Tech, University of Georgia and Georgia State University.

“These institutions’ decisions to get involved with REACH will give a lifeline to a world-class education for deserving students who have worked hard but still need a helping hand in affording college,” said Deal. “The leadership and decisions of these schools to get on board with this program further extends our promise to helping young people attain the education they deserve.”

The REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) Scholarship program, was first introduced last month. The program caters to middle school students who are required to sign a contract, maintain a certain grade-point average, abstain from drug, criminal, and other behavior-related issues, and meet with volunteer mentors throughout their academic career until they graduate from high school. In addition the student’s parents or guardians will also sign a contract indicating they will support their student throughout their education. Students who meet the REACH Scholarship requirements will receive a yearly renewable award of $2,500 to be used at any HOPE-eligible institution.

Deal said The REACH scholarship program began as a pilot project in the Bulloch, Douglas and Rabun county school systems, and has been expanding to new districts each year. He added the middle school students that will be selected for the program this fall will enter college in the fall of 2017.

He said the program is funded at the state level by private dollars contributed to a 501(c)3 tax-exempt foundation, which is located at the Georgia Student Finance Commission. The HOPE Scholarship is also housed in the same location.

Deal said Georgia Southern University will support the REACH scholarship by donating a portion of the proceeds it receives from its planned official university license plate. He added the university is currently working on a new design for its popular license plate and will be working with the state of Georgia to introduce it later this summer.

“The REACH scholarship is about making real change. It will put future generations, those who truly need financial support, in a position to win,” said Georgia Southern University President Brooks Keel. “Our goal is not only to train productive workers, but also to provide our students with the resources and the skills they need to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Georgia Southern is proud to play a significant role in increasing students’ access to education.”

Deal said Agnes Scott College, Berry College, Covenant College, Mercer University, Piedmont College, Reinhardt University, Wesleyan College and Young Harris College have agreed to double the REACH grant for students who choose their campuses. He added Georgia Southern, Life University and the other three GICA colleges (Andrew College, Emmanuel College and Savannah College of Art and Design) have promised to match the REACH Scholarship award.

“These commitments will help cover the average gap between other needs-based scholarships, such as the Pell Grant, and the full cost of attendance further expanding the possibility of higher education for more Georgia students,” said Deal.