August 2017 Quarterly Newsletter
GAfutures Turns One Year
It’s been one year since GSFC launched GAfutures as the state’s premier resource to help students across the state plan for college. New functions and information continue to enhance the user experience and better prepare Georgians to access education beyond high school.
GAfutures.org celebrated its one year anniversary July 26. Over the past year, there have been almost 1.5 million visits to the site, more than 300,000 accounts have been created and over 90,000 high school to college transcripts have been released. Enhancements, increased functionality and new features continue to be made to help make GAfutures a premiere resource for students of all ages to plan, apply and pay for college.
New Features and Functions
Admin Functions Navigation
Users can now access their assigned GAfutures administrative functions directly from their My GAfutures homepage. The new Admin Functions menu is located on the right side of the page and replaces the separate “Admin” page that previously appeared after clicking the gray “Admin” bar. The new menu does not affect assigned administrative rights or functions.
Participating high schools now have the option to release requested transcripts to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA feature is accessible in the transcripts section of STARS. Using the Release Transcripts feature, an administrator can select “NCAA” instead of choosing a school.
My HOPE GPA Page
The My HOPE GPA page has been enhanced with a new look and more helpful information. Students with My GAfutures accounts can access their My HOPE GPA to check if they are on track to receive the HOPE Scholarship and/or Zell Miller Scholarship based on transcript information provided by eligible high schools. New eligibility messages have also been included to help students understand their initial academic eligibility for the HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship once they graduate high school. In addition, important facts about qualifying for the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships can be found on the right side of the page.
State Programs Updates
Two state programs recently saw increases to available award amounts and another popular program received a new name.
Georgia National Guard Service Cancelable Loan
Additional funds are now available to assist Georgians serving in the Georgia National Guard to pursue their postsecondary education. For FY 2018 (2017-2018) the Georgia National Guard Service Cancelable Loan Program received a budgetary increase of $1.5 million. The 2017-2018 application and other program information are available on GAfutures.
Public Safety Memorial Grant
Thanks to many generous Georgians, the Department of Driver Services transferred over $294,000 to the Georgia Student Finance Authority (GSFA) for the Public Safety Memorial Grant (PSMG) Program. This new funding was made possible by the passage of House Bill 54 during the 2016 legislative session which allowed Georgians to contribute a voluntary donation during issuance and renewal of drivers’ licenses and identification cards. This new funding support is in addition to $600,000 of state funds previously appropriated by the Georgia General Assembly. The 2017-2018 application and other program information are available on GAfutures.
SIWDG Renamed HOPE Career Grant
The Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant (SIWDG) was recently renamed the HOPE Career Grant. GSFC and the Technical College System of Georgia collaborated in an effort to provide a name that better reflects the grant’s goals of steering more students into the high-demand careers identified by Governor Deal and the General Assembly as strategically important to the state’s economic growth. For eligible students, the HOPE Career Grant covers their tuition, and in some instances, fees and equipment.
GSFC's Dear Colleague Letters and Updates have the latest on state programs and regulations.
Postsecondary HOPE GPA Calculation System Making Progress
GSFC continues its collaborative effort with USG, TCSG, GICA and OPB to create the College HOPE Eligibility Calculation Service (CHECS).
CHECS will provide a centralized HOPE GPA calculation system to HOPE-eligible postsecondary institutions (PSIs) throughout Georgia. The goal is for CHECS to improve the efficiency and standardize the HOPE GPA calculations that are currently being performed by each of the 80+ HOPE-eligible PSIs. CHECS will receive student and course-level data from each of the eligible PSIs which will be used to perform a student’s GPA calculation. The resulting HOPE GPA will then be provided to the PSI who will use it, along with other eligibility criteria, to make future HOPE award determinations.
As a result of earlier legislation, GSFC has been successfully calculating the HOPE GPA for participating public and private high schools for 10 years through the Transcript Exchange system. During the 2017 legislative session, Governor Deal asked that GSFC create a system similar to the high school process that will calculate a student’s ongoing HOPE GPA as they continue their postsecondary education. CHECS is the result of this request and demonstrates GSFC’s commitment to our customers. Aside from calculating the HOPE GPA, CHECS should help improve adherence to HOPE regulations and reduce compliance findings through use of this centralized service.
Class of 2017 Valedictorians Celebrated
Earlier this summer, nearly 400 Georgia valedictorians and their families visited the Governor’s Mansion for the 24th annual Governor’s Valedictorian Reception.
Cosponsored by the Governor’s Office and the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC), Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal hosted the annual Valedictorian Reception to celebrate the valedictorians and their families, a tradition started in 1993 by Governor Zell Miller.
“Due to your hard work and dedication in pursuit of your goals, you have been recognized as the finest young minds across Georgia,” said Deal. “As you move on to the next chapter of your lives, remember to walk humbly and to continue to work hard, as hard work produces great accomplishments. I also urge you to always remember where you come from, as you are the future of our great state and nation.”
The Valedictorian Reception is divided into three sessions over the course of two days to accomodate travel and attendees from across the state. Valedictorians from metro-Atlanta attended the reception on Friday evening, valedictorians from north Georgia attended on Saturday morning and valedictorians from south Georgia attended on Saturday afternoon.
In addition to the valedictorians and their guests, board members from the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents, the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Board of Directors, the GSFC Board of Commissioners and the State of Georgia Board of Education also attended the annual reception.
Prior to remarks from the Governor, valedictorians and their guests heard advice from First Lady Sandra Deal, GSFC President Shawn Ryan, USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley, TCSG Commissioner Gretchen Corbin and State School Superintendent Richard Woods.
“The Valedictorian Reception is not only a way to acknowledge and celebrate Georgia’s brightest young minds, but it is also a rare opportunity to gather them all under one roof. Hearing these young men and women discuss their plans for the future shows Georgia has a bright future ahead,” said Shawn Ryan, President of the Georgia Student Finance Commission.