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Changes for Georgia grads, college students
burns jon 2015
State Rep. Jon Burns

Dear Friends,

As the school year has drawn to a close across the state, our 2021 graduating seniors and their families have turned their attention to what the fall may bring. 

For many Georgia seniors, fall will bring a new home on a campus far from their families and childhood communities. Others will stay closer to home and seek out educational and work opportunities there. Regardless, this fall will bring exciting new changes for these recent graduates and their families, and Dayle and I wish them all the best in whatever their next step may be!

During the Session this year, we passed several pieces of legislation that may affect the path that Georgia students take to graduation and their experience as a college student if that is the path they choose after graduating. 

House Bill 617, sponsored by Representative Chuck Martin, the Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, will expand options for student-athletes at Georgia colleges and universities to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness. Historically, student-athletes have not been allowed to receive any such payments. 

After multiple hearings and discussions with student-athletes and colleges and universities, Chairman Martin proposed this legislation to respond to concerns raised by student-athletes and Georgia colleges and universities. As part of this program, schools must offer financial literacy and life skills workshops at the beginning of students’ first and third years of college. Schools may also require students to contribute up to 75% of this income to a fund that will support student-athletes previously enrolled at the school. This legislation will remain in effect until June 30, 2025, or until a federal law is passed relating to this issue, whichever comes first. 

Allowing student-athletes to begin to earn an income while in school and giving them valuable financial skills will set them on a much more secure path upon graduation.

Senate Bill 107, sponsored in the House by former Representative Bert Reeves, provides that students who are homeless or from a foster home situation can pay in-state tuition at the University System of Georgia and Georgia Technical College System institutions. 

These students may also qualify for additional waivers for other fees and costs associated with attendance. 

Given the challenges that Georgians who are homeless or part of the foster care system face, supporting them in furthering their education can give them the “hand up” they may need. 

The House Republican Caucus will continue to seek ways to support Georgia college students, particularly those who have been part of our state’s foster care system or have not had a consistent home. 

As many students spend their last summer at home before starting a new phase of their lives,

I hope that they and their families enjoy quality time and make special memories that will last a lifetime. As always, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail, or participate on Facebook to share your thoughts and concerns. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.