UGA president announces plans to help rural and low-income students

University of Georgia president Jere Morehead announced specific plans Wednesday to help two groups of students - those from rural areas of the state and financially-struggling seniors.

UGA has created the ALL Georgia Program, a five-year, $300,000 privately-funded initiative to offer additional academic and other support to its rural students. Many of them are first-generation college students and some have difficulty adjusting to the university’s academic standards, according to a recent report done by a UGA task force. About 15 percent of UGA students are from rural parts of Georgia and their graduation rate is 10 percentage points lower than other students, the report found.

“It represents another step to ensure that each and every student at the University of Georgia, regardless of background, is set up to be successful in the classroom and in life after graduation,” Morehead said in his annual state of the university address of the ALL Georgia Program.

Several Georgia institutions have proposed efforts recently to help rural students. Georgia Tech in August announced an effort that would help more rural students enroll there. Its Georgia Tech Scholars Program automatically accepts any valedictorian or salutatorian from a public or private high school with more than 50 students. UGA also offers automatic acceptance to Georgia students who graduate at the top of their class.

Morehead also announced the university will establish a pilot program to award grants up to $2,000 to students facing emergency financial hardship. About 200 students struggle to stay at UGA “because they cannot make ends meet,” Morehead said. Some drop out.

“Is there more we can do to help these students graduate? I believe there is,” Morehead said.

The president said the university will spend about $250,000 in private funds for the pilot program.

Georgia State University has a similar program. Last year, about 2,000 students received grants. The average grant was $900.

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