March 2021 Quarterly Newsletter
Path2College 529 Plan Reaches Major Savings Milestone
Georgia families have a lot to look forward to in 2021 with a boost to their college savings plan.
The Path2College 529 Plan (P2C) hit a major milestone as accountholder balances just reached $4 billion in savings. This new milestone comes on the heels of significant reductions to P2C program fees effective January 1, 2021.
At its annual meeting, the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan Board, chaired by Governor Brian P. Kemp, approved lowering P2C program fees by nearly 70% as it waived the state’s administrative fee and awarded a new lower cost contract to TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI), the Plan’s program manager.
Effective January 1, 2021, program management and administrative fees fell from 0.13% to 0.04%, saving P2C account owners over $3.5 million annually. Additional enhancements planned in 2021 to P2C’s investment menu will reduce account owner costs even further.
Read more in the official P2C press release.
REACH Board of Directors Confirmed by GSFA
The Georgia Student Finance Authority (GSFA) Board of Directors met to confirm a slate of 26 nominees to serve as members on the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Georgia Foundation Inc.
On Friday, February 5, 2021, the Georgia Student Finance Authority (GSFA) Board of Directors met to confirm a slate of 26 nominees to serve as members on the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Georgia Foundation Inc. Board of Directors. Approved unanimously, the slate consists of 14 new and 12 returning members.
Bringing expertise from an array of industries and professions, the Board of Directors are responsible for generating awareness of the program and promoting engagement and financial investment in the program for the thousands of scholars served through the program.
Read more and view the complete list of Board of Director appointees in the REACH press release.
State Program Updates
Several new applications and technological functions are now open and available for GAfutures platform and website users.
GSFC launches the GAfutures Virtual AdvisorNeed to chat?
The GAfutures Virtual Advisor went live on January 13, 2021. The Virtual Advisor was created to answer general questions from students and parents about our state financial programs. Students have access to this resource 24/7 and can use it as an alternative to calling or emailing the office. In the first month, the Virtual Advisor conducted 2,851 chat conversions.
- Dual Enrollment Funding Application Opens
Over 60,000 Georgia high school and home study students completed the new Dual Enrollment funding application that was released March 2020 for the 2019-2020 academic year. The application has received positive feedback from the high school and postsecondary professionals as they process their students’ applications. The 2020-2021 version opened on February 8, 2021 along with the Course Directory.
Each year students seeking Dual Enrollment funding must complete the application and their parent must complete the Parent Participation Agreement. The high school or home study and the postsecondary institution then determines approval of courses and terms of participation. The 2020-2021 Dual Enrollment funding application is available for the Summer and Fall 2021 terms and the Winter and Spring 2022 terms.
- Postsecondary Institution Annual Recertification for FY 2022 Opens
The FY 2022 Annual Recertification for Postsecondary Functions Institutional Profile data will begin March 1st. HOPE eligible postsecondary institutions must review, update (as needed) and certify that all parts of the Institutional Profile are accurate and up to date for the upcoming fiscal year by June 30, 2021.
- GSFAPPS and SURFER Redevelopment
GSFC is beginning the redevelopment of critical parts of the state financial aid process for the student and eligible postsecondary institutions. Over the next two years, discovery, development and testing will be conducted to redesign the GSFAPPS, Georgia Student Financial Aid Application. Additionally, we will redevelop the student demographics, invoicing and reconciliation modules of the SURFER system into the new Postsecondary Functions for our partner postsecondary institutions to administer the state programs for their students. Our Financial Aid Advisory Council which consists of representatives from eleven of our partner postsecondary institutions from each sector will participate and provide valuable input for the redevelopment. GSFC will collaborate with members of the University System of Georgia, Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Independent College Association.
Georgia General Assembly Begins a New Biennium
Lawmakers convened for the first session of the 156th General Assembly on Monday, January 11, 2021, marking the beginning of a new biennium.
Elected to serve two-year terms, members of the House and Senate begin a new biennium every other year with the swearing-in of new members, returning members renewing the oath of office and leadership elections within each chamber. In addition to the ceremonial procedures of a new General Assembly convening for business, lawmakers also receive committee assignments for the upcoming session.
Named Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee in 2019, former GSFC Board Member and current General Assembly member Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta) has been reappointed to continue leading the Senate’s designated committee concerning higher education policy in Georgia. Similar to the Senate, the House Higher Education Committee saw no change in leadership with Rep. Chuck Martin (R – Alpharetta) appointed to resume his role as Chairman of the 25-member committee. The full list of House Committee assignments and Senate Committee assignments can be viewed online.
Typically delivered near the beginning of the of the legislative session, Governor Brian P. Kemp addressed lawmakers during their first week under the Gold Dome and gave his third State of the State Address. In addition to outlining his office’s legislative priorities for the session, the Governor officially unveiled his proposals for the 2021 Amended Fiscal Year (AFY21) and 2022 Fiscal Year (FY22) Budgets. With no significant changes in GSFC’s operating budget for the amended fiscal year, a few highlights of the Governor’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year (FY22) that impact GSFC-administered programs include:
- $7,259,713 in additional funds to meet the projected need for HOPE Grants
- An increase of $611,673 to meet the projected need for HOPE Scholarship students attending a private postsecondary institution
- $6,370,000 for the REACH Scholarship Program, Georgia’s needs-based financial assistance scholarship program
- An addition of $7,888,998 to the HOPE Scholarship Program to account for a projected growth of students participating in the program
These numbers are solely recommendations submitted to the General Assembly by Governor Kemp and are subject to change at the discretion of lawmakers. The Governor has signed the General Assembly’s amended version of the AFY21 Budget. The FY22 Budget is currently under review by the legislature, with lawmakers having until the end of the forty-day legislative session to pass a balanced budget.
Be on the lookout for a review of the session in the May edition of the GSFC Quarterly Newsletter, where we will discuss legislation that has an impact on GSFC-administered programs.
GAfutures on Social Media
The GSFC Outreach team will host a series of live streams via Instagram for the latest installment of the #TipTuesdays series. Topics to be discussed include career and college planning, financial aid, GAfutures and state aid programs. Check GAfutures' social media to view upcoming dates and topics.
Do you have any suggestions for future newsletter articles or questions about this issue? Email us at [email protected].