Senate passes bill to expand need-based aid for Georgia college students

The Senate just passed a measure to expand need-based financial aid to Georgia college students.

House Bill 249 expands on legislation passed last year to help students who can’t afford their tuition.

This year’s bill increases the maximum award to $3,500 per student, up from $2,500.

Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, called that increase the “best thousand dollars we could ever invest in the state of Georgia.”

It also allows students to receive the aid earlier in their academic studies.

As the law currently stands, students are eligible for funding upon completing 80% of their credits. The revision allows students to qualify for help after finishing just 70% of their credit requirements for a four-year program or 45% of their credits for a two-year program.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, told the Senate’s higher education committee last week that the program is “a good investment” in students who “have gotten to this point through hard work.”

The House passed the bill on Crossover Day, but the Senate added an amendment that allows a program with the Technical College System of Georgia to provide free tuition for military veterans who are training for a commercial driver’s license.