Georgia’s colleges get $1M grant to keep students on track for graduation

School Tuition

Georgia is getting outside assistance to help the state’s college students complete their degrees on time and spend less money in the process.

The state is the recipient of a three-year, $1 million grant from the Lumina Foundation and Complete College America to establish the Guided Pathways to Success initiative to boost college completion. Gov. Nathan Deal announced the grant Wednesday following an education summit on Georgia Tech’s campus.

The plan is to use the money toward “intrusive advising,” or closely tracking and working with students at the state’s two- and four-year colleges to keep them on track and prevent them from taking unnecessary classes. The goal is to provide all students enrolled in high-demand degree programs with a GPS degree plan by fall 2016.

College completion is not only a higher education issue, Deal said, but also an economic, business and workforce issue. Recent studies have shown that by 2020, more than 60 percent of jobs in Georgia will require some form of post-secondary education. Nationally, less than 3 percent of students at two-year colleges and less than one-third of students at four-year colleges complete their degrees in four years. Georgia’s numbers are similar, state officials said.

A Complete College America study found that Georgia students and taxpayers spend more than $126 million each year for excess college credits, and an analysis completed last year found that at least half of all the excess credits could be eliminated with the GPS program.

The grant will benefit the Complete College Georgia initiative, which was launched three years ago with the goal of increasing the number of college graduates in the state by 250,000 by the year 2020.

Georgia is the third state, along with Indiana and Tennessee, chosen to participate in the grant program.

By Janel Davis
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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