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Initiative expected to make college more affordable

POSTED: June 5, 2014 11:43 p.m.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced that Georgia was one of three states chosen to receive a $1 million grant to lead an education initiative, Guided Pathways to Success (GPS), focused on making college more affordable, boosting college completion and saving taxpayers millions. The grant is funded by the Lumina Foundation in partnership with Complete College America.

“College completion is not only a higher education issue. It’s an economic issue, a business issue and a workforce issue,” Deal said. “By 2020, more than 60 percent of job openings in Georgia will require some form of postsecondary education. To meet this demand, we must increase the number of students graduating with postsecondary degrees in a timely, cost-effective manner.

“This initiative builds on the concrete steps our universities and technical colleges have already taken to increase graduation rates. Providing our students with structured degree plans and guaranteeing course availability will eliminate excess credits, cut college costs, ensure more on-time graduations and save the state millions.”

Too many Georgia students take courses they do not need and that do not count toward their degree. A study conducted by Complete College America shows that Georgia students and taxpayers spend more than $126 million each year for excess college credits, and an analysis they commissioned last year concluded that at least half of all excess credits could be eliminated with GPS.

“Like everywhere else in America, the vast majority of college students in Georgia do not graduate on time, and in the process they rack up unnecessary debt as two- and four-year degrees quickly extend to five or six years,” said Complete College America President Stan Jones. “Today Governor Deal leads Georgia higher education in a new direction, making college much more affordable for students and their families while saving Georgia taxpayers millions every year.”

“Keeping students on track and on time is a key factor in increasing college attainment nationwide,” said Lumina Foundation’s Vice President for Policy and Mobilization Danette Howard. “That’s why we’re proud to support Complete College America as it launches the GPS program in Georgia.”

The goal is to provide all Georgia students enrolled in high-demand degree programs with a GPS degree plan by fall 2016. These degree plans will be designed by college advisers and faculty to ensure their quality and value.

“Guided Pathways promises to provide our students with a clear roadmap for the future,” said Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia. “This initiative will assist our institutions to better serve students to realize their educational and career goals faster and at less cost. I appreciate the Lumnia Foundation and Complete College America’s support for this exciting initiative.”

“The technical college system looks forward to implementing the GPS program at nine of our colleges in selected high-demand programs this fall with plans for systemwide implementation by fall 2016,” said Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.

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