Columbus State to Participate in REACH Scholarship Program

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Columbus State University has announced that its foundation will provide funds for the state's new needs-based REACH Scholarship program.

The REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) Scholarship program announced by Gov. Nathan Deal in February allows participating school systems to select seventh-graders on the basis of financial need, academic performance and other criteria. The seventh-graders then sign a contract agreeing to keep their grades up, abstain from drug use and meet with volunteer mentors regularly until they graduate from high school.

Students who meet REACH Scholarship requirements will receive a yearly renewable award of $2,500 to be used at any HOPE-eligible institution participating in the program.

The REACH scholarship program began as a pilot project in the Bulloch, Douglas and Rabun county school systems, expanding to new districts each year. Seventh-graders selected for the program this fall will enter college in the fall of 2017.

This program is funded at the state level by private dollars contributed to a 501(c)3 tax-exempt foundation that’s governed by the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which also administers the HOPE Scholarship. Goals of the scholarship program include broadening access to higher education to more first-generation college students and making sure they have the money and mentoring to eventually graduate.

Columbus State already had been involved in similar financial aid to local students in two programs announced earlier:

  • The privately funded Columbus Scholars program began in 2009 to identify and adopt deserving but disadvantaged local fifth-graders on the basis of financial and personal need and the potential for personal growth. They enter a long-term, one-on-one mentoring relationship administered by Big Brothers Big Sisters. Upon successful completion of the program, students who adhere to behavior and grades requirements are provided with the financial resources to attend college.
  • A public-private partnership announced last June between Columbus State, Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks Columbus, which creates a $100,000 Individual Development Account fund for college students. Eligible students come from the Muscogee County School District’s Early College program, which allows low-income high school students whose parents have never attended college an opportunity to earn a high school diploma as well as college credit at CSU. Qualified participants will find money they save for college will be matched four-to-one.
More information on the REACH Scholarship program is available at www.gacollege411.org.

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