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New funding will aid area technical college students
by Tom Spigolon
May 07, 2014 01:53 PM | 4828 views | 0 0 comments | 222 222 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new law to increase the number of Georgia technical college students eligible for full-ride scholarships could help at least one in three students at Chattahoochee Technical College’s Acworth campus.

In addition, funding added to the budget this year could add to money provided in the HOPE grant to students in high-demand employment programs at the college’s Acworth and Paulding County campuses, spokeswoman Rebecca Long said.

Gov. Nathan Deal last week signed House Bill 697, which establishes the Zell Miller HOPE grant to fund all of a student’s technical college tuition if they have at least a 3.5 grade point average. The HOPE grant now funds only about 70 percent for all students who have at least a 2.0 average.

Students at the North Metro campus in Acworth will benefit because about 1,100 of its 3,000 students are enrolled in health care programs which typically see high-performing students, Long said.

“They typically have very high GPAs because it is such a competitive program,” she said.

One nursing class only accepts about 40 students out of up to 400 applicants annually because of the number of instructors available, Long said. The North Metro campus offers certified nursing assistant, physical therapy assistant and nursing programs.

In 2013, 81,000 technical college students received HOPE Grants for two-year certificate and diploma programs in the state’s 24 technical colleges. A total of 7,163 Chattahoochee Tech students at its eight campuses received the HOPE grant this year, Long said.

Shortfalls in the lottery budget in 2011 prompted legislators to increase requirements for the grant from a grade point average of 2.0 to 3.0. Lawmakers then reinstated the 2.0 GPA requirement last year but with only 70 percent tuition funding from the grant.

Students at the college’s campuses in Paulding and Acworth also will benefit from an additional $5 million to expand the state’s Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant in the 2014-2015 state budget.

The grant adds $500 to $1,000 to a student’s HOPE grant each semester if they go into a defined high-demand area. A total of 272 Chattahoochee Tech students received the workforce development grant this year because they were enrolled in the commercial truck driving and practical nursing programs at North Metro and the early childhood care and education program at the North Metro and Paulding campuses.

Expansion of the program will provide the supplement to students in practical nursing, early childhood care and education, commercial truck driving, welding, healthcare technologies, diesel mechanic and information technology.

Combined, the two grants could cover all of the cost of tuition as well as some books and fees, officials said.

Long said Chattahoochee Tech officials are hopeful the supplement “points people in a direction where there are jobs” such as welding.

An estimated 12,000 technical college students statewide are expected to use the workforce development grant.

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