Georgia needs program that helps college students facing financial pressure, group says

7:40 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 AJC Homepage
Materials for participants sit on a table at a financial aid workshop in conjunction with the Georgia Student Finance Commission to help parents and students with questions about the FAFSA at Banneker High School on Thursday, Feb 19, 2015, in College Park. Curtis Compton /

Georgia should create a needs-based grant program to assist low-income college students with financial challenges, an organization said in a report released Thursday.

The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute said Georgia is one of only two states that does not offer state aid programs weighted to financial need.

“One simple approach to providing low-income students with financial aid is a need-based grant program,” the group said in the report. “Other states and individual colleges also provide aid in the form of forgivable loans or work-study opportunities for low-income students.”

The institute suggested the money for the program could come from state appropriations, tuition and fee revenue, lottery proceeds or other means.

The institute found the average net price of attending a campus in the University System of Georgia was higher in recent years for students whose families have annual salaries less than $30,000. The cost rose by 32 percent for that income bracket between the 2009-10 school year and the 2014-15 school year, the institute reported.

Other recommendations included increasing the percentage of state funding for higher education to, at least, 2001 levels. Another recommendation is to designate some of the state’s reserve fund to maintain higher education funding levels during an economic downturn.