February 2017 Quarterly Newsletter
STEM Weighted Course Directory Now Available on GAfutures
Directory provides college students the ability to find STEM courses approved to receive an additional weight at HOPE-eligible colleges.
The STEM Weighted Course Directory was developed as a result of House Bill 801 which was designed to incentivize students to choose a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field of study. HB 801 was passed during the 2016 legislative session and was signed into law by Governor Deal.
Beginning fall 2017, students enrolled in approved STEM courses at HOPE-eligible institutions will receive a boost to their postsecondary HOPE GPA calculation for the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships. A weight of 0.5 will be added to grades of B, C or D. The approved courses are specific, rigorous and typically offered during the first two years of college.
“I am confident this new initiative will encourage more Georgia students to enroll in STEM classes that will lead to career fields where we have jobs waiting for them,” said Governor Deal.
The courses currently approved, and included in the STEM Weighted Course Directory on GAfutures, are ones required to obtain a major leading to one or more of the STEM career fields that require at least a bachelor’s degree and are considered to be in high demand in Georgia. The University System of Georgia (USG), the Georgia Independent College Association (GICA) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) worked collaboratively, along with input from the Georgia Department of Economic Development regarding high demand careers, to draft an initial list of rigorous STEM courses eligible for weighting.
The “STEM Weighted Course List” will be reviewed on an annual basis by the STEM Weighted Course Approval Council, which will have representatives from USG, GICA, TCSG, GSFC and others.
GSFC Launches New College and Career Guide
Planning for college doesn’t have to be hard if you have the tools and information to make smart choices. In an effort to help more high school students prepare for college, GSFC produced the first issue of Georgia’s College Connector.
The booklet’s focus is students in high school but it can also be helpful for parents, as well as a resource for counselors. If you would like to order a small supply of hard copies, contact your GSFC Outreach Representative or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
REACH Day at the Capitol 2017
Hundreds of Scholars, mentors, coordinators, state legislators and other supporters of REACH celebrated the fifth year and first graduating class of the unique needs-based scholarship program.
January 25, 2017 was proclaimed REACH Day at the Capitol in honor of the needs-based scholarship and mentoring program. More than 200 REACH Scholars from across the state had an opportunity to tour the Capitol, have pictures taken with Governor Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal, and explore options for their postsecondary education at the college and career fair held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.
The day also included a luncheon and senior recognition ceremony in honor of the REACH program’s first graduating class. Special remarks were provided by Anne Kaiser, Chair of the REACH Georgia Foundation; Shawn Ryan, President of GSFC; members of the REACH team; and First Lady Sandra Deal.
Malcolm Cooley II, one of the 17 senior Scholars, was chosen to represent his peers and shared his REACH experience at the luncheon. Cooley, who will be graduating from Cartersville High School, recognized the benefit of being a part of the program. “Receiving the REACH Scholarship has provided me with more options on which college I may attend because it has eliminated the need for student loans for a 4-year college.” Malcolm is interested in pursuing a career in engineering and is currently deciding among Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Georgia Tech.
REACH Georgia scholarships are funded through private and public donations. In honor of the program and REACH Day at the Capitol, Georgia Power, TIAA CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., and Chick-fil-A Foundation each presented a check to the REACH Georgia Foundation and Governor Deal in support of the REACH Georgia Program.
Visit REACHGA.org for more information about REACH Day at the Capitol 2017, the REACH Program and how to get involved.
GSFC Compliance Reviews: What You Need to Know
GSFC’s compliance season has begun. If you are among the participating postsecondary institutions chosen, here is some helpful information to make sure you’re ready.
Postsecondary institutions that participate in Georgia’s State Scholarship and Grant Programs are required to undergo periodic compliance reviews (typically a 3-year cycle). Institutions must maintain complete and accurate records concerning the awarding and disbursement of State Scholarship and Grant Programs funds. These compliance reviews are necessary to ensure adherence to program regulations and to identify any training needs the institution may have in administering State Scholarship and Grant programs.
GSFC’s Compliance Team has updated their communications for the 2017 Compliance Review cycle. Institutions selected for 2017 will receive a newly formatted Notification Memo 30 days prior to their scheduled on-site review. The Notification Memo will contain all of the pertinent dates for the compliance review cycle. There will be a printable version as well as the HTML format for direct links to the updated Compliance page.
The new and updated process for sending the Notification Memo and other communications will allow for less attachments to be included in the email. Institutions can now go to the Compliance Team’s page to access the full Notification Memo, as well as downloadable versions of the Administrative Questionnaire and Data Correction Form.
Note: If you received the Residency/SAP certification email that was sent to all USG and TCSG institutions on January 9, 2017, the required document referenced can now be downloaded on the Compliance page.
There are also various useful resources you can refer to during the Compliance Review process on the Compliance page. For example, the Compliance Post Review Guidance document provides a description regarding the order of operation once Compliance Officers leave your institution. It includes screenshots of the reports and offers guidance on the institutions’ and compliance team’s roles throughout the Compliance Review process.
Have you been chosen for a Compliance review this year? GSFC strongly encourages you to visit the Compliance page to make sure you are prepared for your review and site visit. If you have additional questions regarding the process, you can also contact GSFC’s Compliance Team.
2017 Legislative Session
The 2017 legislative session is underway and some of GSFC’s programs and services are the focus of proposed legislation.
The 154th Georgia General Assembly convened on Monday, January 9 for the 40-day legislative session. As usual, several pieces of legislation related to programs and services administered by GSFC have already been introduced.
To begin the session, Governor Nathan Deal delivered his annual State of the State Address. During his address, the Governor discussed his plans for education, cybersecurity, the state budget and health care. View a copy of the speech transcript.
Other GSFC-related legislation that has been introduced thus far includes:
- HB 37 – would prohibit private colleges from receiving state scholarships and grants if they create “sanctuary policies” or rules preventing employees from cooperating with law enforcement officers or immigration enforcement.
- HB 158 – also known as “The Destination Resort Act,” this is one of two casino gambling bills being considered. Under the current version, 70 percent of revenue proceeds would go towards the HOPE Program and 30 percent would be dedicated to a need-based aid program.
- HB 222 – members of the Georgia National Guard and members of a reserve unit of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Georgia would automatically be classified as a legal resident of Georgia for the purposes of HOPE Scholarship and Grant eligibility.
- SB 79 – please see above; this is the second of two bills related to legalization of casino gambling. Also known as “The Destination Resort Act,” 70 percent of revenue proceeds would go towards the HOPE Program and 30 percent would be dedicated to a need-based aid program.
- SB 82 – would create a need-based HOPE Scholarship and Grant to pay an additional tuition amount for HOPE Scholarship and Grant recipients whose total gross annual income is less than $75,000.
- Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) and Representative Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch) both sponsored resolutions to recognize January 25, 2017 as REACH Day at the Capitol.
- The House passed HB 43 – the Amended FY 2017 Budget. The mid-year budget runs through June 30 and includes about $600 million in additional spending, including $16 million for growth in Move on When Ready (MOWR).
This year’s legislative session is currently scheduled to conclude on Thursday, March 30. In GSFC’s next quarterly newsletter, we’ll provide a summary of passed legislation impacting GSFC’s programs and services. Once signed by the Governor, program changes will be reflected in the respective program’s regulations.