Nathan Deal aims to expand needs-based scholarship

Gov. Nathan Deal outlined plans this week to dramatically expand a state program aimed at helping financially needy students.

The governor said this week he wants the REACH Georgia program to grow from roughly 330 students to some 2,800 scholars by 2020, and that he wants to expand the program to all 180 of Georgia’s school systems.

The program, launched in 2012, is a needs-based scholarship that begins in eighth grade. REACH scholars are paired with a mentor and an academic coach through high school and they must maintain good behavior, good grades, good attendance and graduate from high school to stay in the program.

Those who complete it are awarded a $10,000 scholarship that can be used at any HOPE-eligible college in Georgia. More than 60 universities and colleges are matching or doubling the scholarship, which can be tacked on other grants or scholarships the student receives.

At least $2 million has been set aside in recent budgets to fund the program, which Deal said “will make a huge difference for the future of our state.”

The budget for the next fiscal year also includes provisions and funding that will allow the scholarship to launch a pilot program for foster children, said Chris Green of the Georgia Student Finance Commission. The pilot has an initial goal of reaching 30 foster students. 

"Children in foster care have some of the lowest educational outcomes in our state, so we are excited about bringing the social, academic and financial support of the REACH program to these students," Green said. 

More: Find out more about the scholarship program. 

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.