Georgia Institute of Technology President Bud Peterson poses for a portrait in his office on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta, Monday, August 20, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Tech Foundation launches $17 million needs-based scholarship

The Georgia Tech Foundation has raised $17 million for a needs-based scholarship - the largest single endowment fund in school history - in honor of G.P. “Bud” Peterson, who is retiring this summer as its president and his wife, Valerie, officials announced Thursday.

The foundation directed $5 million in a grant toward the effort and has received commitments totaling $12 million from alumni, trustees and other supporters. The foundation is seeking additional money toward the G. P. “Bud” Peterson and Valerie H. Peterson Scholarship Endowment Fund.

“The Petersons have championed a generation of hardworking, gifted students by driving initiatives that expand access to an affordable education for all students who earn admission to Georgia Tech,” John F. Brock III, chair of the Georgia Tech Foundation, said in a news release. “They have a strong commitment to putting a Georgia Tech education within reach of qualified students with financial need. This endowment fund will help generations of students realize their aspirations and build a brighter future for themselves and our world.”

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Georgia Tech is one of the state’s most academically rigorous schools and its most expensive public school. The in-state cost for undergraduate students to attend Georgia Tech in 2017-18 was nearly $29,000, state data shows. Total cost for out-of-state undergraduate students for the 2018-19 school year was nearly $49,000, according to Georgia Tech’s website. About one-quarter of Georgia Tech students took out loans in 2017-18, state data shows.

As president, Peterson has worked on efforts to make Georgia Tech more accessible for lower-income students. He implemented programs offering automatic acceptance and four-year in-state tuition scholarships to all Atlanta Public School valedictorians and salutatorians. In addition, Georgia Tech offers automatic acceptance to valedictorians and salutatorians in every accredited high school statewide. 

Georgia Tech, along with Emory University and Spelman College, are the three Georgia schools that are part of the American Talent Initiative, a nationwide effort among some high-performing schools to enroll and graduate more low-income students.

Peterson, who became Georgia Tech’s president in 2009, announced in January his plans to leave as president and return to research and teaching. The state’s Board of Regents voted earlier this month to hire Ángel Cabrera, now president of George Mason University, as Georgia Tech’s next president. Cabrera, a Georgia Tech alumnus, is scheduled to start by mid-September.

The scholarship fund comes as several presidential candidates have presented proposals recently to make college more affordable and lower student loan debt.

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