AJC On Campus: Vaccines for students; more colleges make fall return plans

Musical icon Ray Charles, second from left, received a honorary doctoral degree from Morehouse College in 2001. The Ray Charles Foundation contributed $2 million to the college in scholarships for business students, Morehouse officials announced on Friday, March 26, 2021. Photo Credit: Morehouse College.

Musical icon Ray Charles, second from left, received a honorary doctoral degree from Morehouse College in 2001. The Ray Charles Foundation contributed $2 million to the college in scholarships for business students, Morehouse officials announced on Friday, March 26, 2021. Photo Credit: Morehouse College.

A few things happened recently that may benefit Georgia’s college students.

State leaders lowered the age requirements for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, making it easier for students to get vaccinated. The federal government approved some changes they hope will help students cancel their student loan debt if the school engaged in misconduct.

Also, a few more local schools announced plans to have all students back on campus this fall.

Here are some details in this edition of AJC On Campus.

Georgia universities tasked with increasing vaccinations

Several Georgia colleges and universities said last week they were making plans to increase COVID-19 vaccinations on their campuses after Gov. Brian Kemp expanded eligibility to all adults. (The expansion includes those as young as 16 if they get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.) The expansion took effect Thursday.

Fort Valley State University student Devante Sanders received his COVID-19 vaccination on campus at the Hunt Student Wellness Center. Sanders is a senior an education major and president of the university's Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity chapter. PHOTO CREDIT: Fort Valley State University.

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The University of Georgia said it will prioritize those with comorbidities. Georgia Tech will provide second doses to those on campus who got their first shots elsewhere after reviewing paperwork detailing where the person got the first shot. The University of North Georgia will have a mass vaccination center on its Gainesville campus, starting April 6. Emory University has set up an online appointment portal for its students to get vaccinated.

Federal government changes student loan borrower defense regulations

U.S. Department of Education officials recently announced changes they say will make it easier for student loan borrowers to cancel their loans if their college or university engaged in misconduct.

Federal officials said they will rescind a formula created in 2019 to determine the amount of relief granted to borrowers with approved claims, saying the formula did not result in an appropriate relief determination. Officials believe the changes will help approximately 72,000 borrowers receive $1 billion in loan cancellation.

University of Phoenix settlement

The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday it is sending payments totaling $50 million to 147,000 University of Phoenix students who may have been lured by allegedly deceptive recruiting advertisements.

The students must have been enrolled in a masters, bachelors, or associates degree program at the university between October 15, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The university’s advertising gave the false impression that it worked with companies such including AT&T, Microsoft and the American Red Cross to create job opportunities for its students and tailor its curriculum for such jobs, FTC officials said in a news release.

The university, a for-profit institution, has a campus in the Sandy Springs area with about 130 students, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

Fall semester plans

A few more private colleges and universities in the Atlanta area said they’re planning to fully return to campus for the fall 2021 semester.

Oglethorpe University, which allowed a mix of in-person and online courses, said it would release details about its housing plans for students this week. The university will retain a small number of hybrid and remote courses. Registration for fall courses opens April 12.

Morehouse College, which has offered hybrid courses this semester, said it plans to fully reopen this fall, but will make adjustments as needed.

Ray Charles Foundation provides $2 million gift to Morehouse College for scholarships

Speaking of Morehouse, the college said Friday it has received a $2 million gift from The Ray Charles Foundation to provide scholarships to business majors.

Since 1995, the nonprofit foundation has donated more than $9.6 million to the college, including in the construction of the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center on its campus.

Morehouse presented Ray Charles, the legendary musical artist, a honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during its May 2001 commencement exercises. He died in 2004.

Georgia Tech professor charged with visa fraud

Federal authorities on Wednesday announced they’ve charged a Georgia Tech professor with several fraud charges.

Gee-Kung Chang, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and another man, Jianjun Yu, are accused of a scheme that involved sponsoring visas for Chinese nationals through Georgia Tech, only to have those visa recipients work at a telecommunications company in New Jersey.

Read more here.

University of Georgia aims to help grad students impacted by pandemic

September 23, 2020 Athens - UGA students Elizabeth Appleton (left), freshman, and Sarah Kearney, sophomore, work on their school works in the University of Georgia campus in Athens on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The University of Georgia said last week it has created a $250,000 Graduate Student Degree Accelerator Fund to help those students overcome financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and complete their degrees.

The fund will award up to $5,000 to eligible master’s and doctoral degree students to defray expenses associated with their graduate education. The fund to assist approximately 50 to 100 graduate students, UGA officials said.

Research shows many students don’t complete their education because they cannot pay for smaller portions of their tuition.

Fewer students filling out FAFSA

U.S. Department of Education officials say there’s been a 9.2% decline in first-time applicants filling out the FAFSA form needed to apply for federal student aid.

Government officials took to social media to appeal to students to apply for the aid.

Federal officials provide more than $115 billion annually in grants for students to pay their college tuition. We explored some of the challenges students may be facing filling out the FAFSA because of the pandemic and identified some documents they’ll need. Read more here.

Fewer high school graduates enrolled in college this past fall, survey finds

Frederick Douglass High School principal Ellis Duncan (right) congratulates a graduating senior with an elbow bump during a drive-thru celebration event at the school in Atlanta's Center Hill community, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Graduating seniors were given their diplomas, cap, gowns and academic and athletic awards during the drive-thru event at the school. Students were also given a chance to be photographed win their cap and gown which was provided by the Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

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The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report Thursday that found a 6.8% decline of high school graduates attending college immediately after high school this past fall, an unprecedented one-year decline.

The decline is more than four times larger than the 2019 pre-pandemic rate, according to the center. Students in low-income, high-poverty school districts, including rural districts, represented the largest number of students who did not enroll this past fall.

The number of freshman students in the University System of Georgia increased from 78,362 students during the fall 2019 semester to 78,784 students during the fall 2020 semester, state data shows.

Georgia’s population has increased in recent years, which officials believe has helped increased enrollment. University System officials have warned the number of high school graduates in Georgia may decline in a few years, which could impact its enrollment.

The superhero student

3/17/21 - ROCKMART - Tatiana Edwards, a student at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, had to get accustomed to pursuing her degree in quarantine. She's a working mom (her younger son, a 6-year-old, is autistic) and also leads the student government association for the technical college system. Ryon Horne/RHORNE@AJC.COM

Credit: Ryon Horne

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Credit: Ryon Horne

We’ve been tracking how some students and faculty are managing through the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a report that ran about a technical college student who’s juggling being a single parent, a demanding job and efforts to help other students deal with their own challenges as a student government leader.

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