New college grants target high-demand careers

jmink@macon.comJuly 14, 2013 

As the cost of college continues to rise, some Georgia students can now snag some extra help -- if they have the right major.

Beginning this fall semester, students who are earning credentials in commercial truck driving, early childhood education and practical nursing can qualify for the new Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant.

The grant was approved by the Georgia Legislature during the 2013 session as a way to offer more funding to students who pursue careers that are in high demand in Georgia.

Students in the commercial truck driving program can receive a one-time grant of $1,000. Those who pursue early childhood education or practical nursing careers can receive $500 a semester if they are taking nine or more credit hours. If they are taking fewer credit hours, qualified students in those fields can get $250 a semester, according to a news release.

The new grant will be a boost for both students and colleges.

At Central Georgia Technical College, for example, the grant will affect one of the school’s most popular programs: commercial truck driving, spokeswoman Janet Kelly said.

“It’s probably the most expensive program in our system,” she said, “and students were having a real hard time paying for that.”

Students must receive the state HOPE scholarship to qualify for the work force development grant. When they are approved for the HOPE scholarship, qualifying students now automatically get the work force development grant, said Jackie White, the financial aid director at Central Georgia Tech.

If they lose the HOPE scholarship, the work force development grant also will be cut. Students must maintain a 2.0 grade-point average or higher to keep the grant.

“Any time they can receive a grant like this, it’s helpful to our students,” White said. “That way, they may not have to take out a loan that they have to pay back later.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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