Local News

February 19, 2014

Income no barrier for students at Georgia Tech

So you like math. Maybe you want to be an engineer or a physicist. You’ve got great grades and an excellent score on the SAT or ACT. But you just don’t feel like you can afford Georgia Tech even with a HOPE Scholarship.

Well, you just might qualify for the Georgia Tech Promise Program.

“It provides a full scholarship for any student whose family income is 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less, which is about $33,000,” said Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson. “If you can get into Tech and your family meets the income requirements, you can go for free. Tuition, fees, books. It’s all free. We do ask you to work 10 hours a week, so you can get some experience in a professional office.”

The program has had 250 students since it began seven years ago. They have come from families with an average income of $21,000. By contrast, the average starting salary for a Tech graduate is just under $63,000, said Peterson, and some 83 percent of Tech grads have at least one job offer before they graduate.

“The first graduate of that program graduated in three years. Very few people graduate from Tech in three years,” Peterson said. “He was from New Brunswick, and the year before he came to Tech he was living in a car with his mother and sister.”

Peterson spoke Wednesday at the Dalton Golf & Country Club to the Georgia Tech Network of Northwest Georgia, a group of alumni of the school. He noted that the Tech Promise Program is funded solely through private contributions, including those of alumni, and receives no tax funding. He lauded the local group for its Christian Bryant Memorial Scholarship Fund for students from northwest Georgia who attend Tech.

While Tech is a world-class university that attracts students from around the globe, Peterson said it is still a state university and officials try to keep about 60 percent of its student body from Georgia. Currently, about 63 percent of students come from Georgia.

Women currently make up about 38 percent of the student body, and Peterson said that if the share of women at the school continues to grow Tech will have to add another varsity women’s sport to keep compliant with Title IX, a federal law requiring gender equity in sports in schools that accept federal funds.

Peterson said there are discussions about which sport will be added if needed, with soccer and golf under discussion. But he said lacrosse seems to be the leading candidate because of the availability of facilities and the number of scholarships it would allow the school to offer.

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