Today is a very special day.
A few moments ago I was standing at a podium, surrounded by students attending the historical Booker. T. Washington High School campus, and I found myself very emotional as I begin to speak about the gift the district received from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Dr. Bud Peterson, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his wife, Val, joined me our school board members and APS educators to make the announcement. Georgia Tech brought with them a contingent of scientists and professionals from the school. This announcement was just that big!!!
Beginning today Atlanta’s students – no matter where they live or the size of their household income – will have the opportunity to receive a world-class, top-notch, first-rate, awesome college education at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Tech is offering ALL APS Vals and Sals an opportunity to go to college for free. This is indeed a groundbreaking partnership. And on behalf of the students, staff , parents and board members of APS, I want to express our deepest gratitude to Georgia Tech.
Let me clarify: Whether or not that val or sal comes from Washington High, South Atlanta High, North Atlanta High or all points in between, the admissions office at Georgia Tech will have paperwork with our students’ names on it.
Georgia Tech is already a strong partner in our schools; its professionals tutor our students, sponsor robotics programs and provide other meaningful forms of direct support to our schools. And about 60 of our graduates currently attend the school; some of them are on scholarship. Georgia Tech has a global reputation of excellence in research and innovation. Georgia Tech believes the students of Atlanta Public Schools deserve a place on its campus.
As background, Atlanta Public Schools graduates droves of students – many of whom are in 2014 still the first in their families to receive a high school education. This past May, our graduates left APS armed with 100 million dollars in scholarship earnings. The bad news is that far too many of our graduates come back home without a college degree. For every 100 students in Atlanta Public Schools, 59 graduate on time in four years. By our best estimates, of those 59 graduates, 35 enroll in college the next year. Of those 35 college enrollees, only 17 remain in college the very next year.
The experts give tons of answers to explain the reason college students don’t cross the finish line – from experiencing personal difficulties, such as being homesick or having to comfort a family member who’s ill to finding it too difficult to adjust to life on a college campus. However, at the top of the list of reasons college students don’t graduate is
1. they’re underprepared,
2. they’re underfinanced.
Atlanta Public Schools and Georgia Tech are standing together. Team APS is working hard to make sure more of our students are truly college prepared and ready. Team Georgia Tech is working hard to ease the cost of college. To go to Georgia Tech, you need about $9,000 a year if you’re a Georgia resident ($28,000 if you’re not) – and that’s only for tuition. To cover your tuition plus fees, books, housing, meals and more, you need about $25,000 in your pocket if you’re a Georgia resident ($44,000 if you’re not). College is an expensive investment but offers a huge return! The great news is that if you are a val or sal you can go to Georgia Tech for free at a great university!
Just know that we are working to find ways for EVERY APS grad to receive a college scholarship to college. There’s much work to be done and we look forward to achieving this goal with our community for our students!