New Program at CSU Targets First-Generation Students

neighborworks-logoCOLUMBUS, Ga. -- A partnership between Columbus State University, Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks Columbus has created a $100,000 Individual Development Account (IDA) fund for college students.

Eligible students will 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.


With the decreases in HOPE scholarship funding and the rising costs of tuition and fees, some community leaders feared these graduates would be vulnerable to dropping out of college, even with the head start they had generated in the Early College program.

NeighborWorks Columbus learned about a federal grant that helped with post-secondary education. They needed public and private funding, so a partnership was created between Wells Fargo and Columbus State University’s Foundation to help fund the program that will help college students help themselves.

NeighborWorks Columbus will administer the IDA program called Hope Now.



“If participants save up to $500, we will match it four-to-one, so that will provide $2,500 that is designed to accommodate students after they graduate high school, and this will help them enroll at CSU,” said Cathy Williams, president and CEO of NeighborWorks Columbus. “Our goal is to reach the next generation of homebuyers and investors because, if you build assets, you will build family independence. And we understand that starts with education.”

That education includes the curriculum at Columbus State University, as well as online classes from Wells Fargo and financial literacy counseling from NeighborsWorks Columbus.

“We’re very excited to be able to help offer this financial assistance,” said Columbus State University President Tim Mescon. “Our foundation provides more than $1 million in scholarships every year, and first-generation college students are a population with which we are very familiar. We have developed a history of providing college degrees to families that had never before achieved that milestone.”

Muscogee County School Superintendent Susan Andrews said the public-private partnership that established this program is “another example of this community stepping up to support our young people. We are so fortunate to have partnerships such as this one."