“In the years past we’ve had each individual [high] school invite colleges, finance [information representatives], to their school for a parent information night,” BCCCA CEO Paul Sabin said. “Bartow County really wants to have a college and career academy that can bring all of those ideas together and groups together so we can share the same information with parents and students and this is a great location — the college and career academy is located in the center of the county.”
The event was orchestrated by guidance counselors among the county’s three high schools. Sabin said parents or students who were unable to attend the meeting and are seeking additional information should first make contact with a counselor at their school of origin.
“Mostly everyone is interested in scholarship information,” Cass High School Counselor Chris Burton said in reference to parents who had approached him with questions during SPIN. “They’re wanting information about HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships, they’re wanting information about the Etowah [Scholarship Foundation] scholarships and opportunities through them, and really just any other information we’re able to give them about how to pay for college.”
He continued, “What we’re trying to do is direct them and to point them in the right direction to get good information, but also they’re going to get information honed to their individual child and what’s going to be best for them to apply for specifically. We don’t want to just throw them into this huge pool full of scholarships and international competitions, we want to try and hone them and get them some reasonable stuff because there’s a million scholarships out there — they can’t know about all of them, we can’t know about all of them — but we can point them in the right direction where they can find out what’s best for them.”
Ben Meadows, a K-12 school representative for the Georgia Student Finance Commission, spoke to parents and students about the HOPE Grant, Hope Scholarship and Zell Miller scholarship, expanding on specifics regarding the qualifications for the scholarships as well as real-life examples of students seeking these scholarships.
Meadows said, for example, while the HOPE Grant only is applicable to students seeking a two-year degree or a certificate from a state technical college with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.9, students seeking to complete their college career at a four-year institution can use the grant to assist in the process of acquiring their bachelor’s degree.
“I have seen some very smart students use the HOPE Grant to help pay for their bachelor’s, and I’ll give you an example,” Meadows said to the crowd gathered in the BCCCA’s cafeteria. “I had a student a few years ago who graduated high school with, I believe, a GPA of 2.7 and he was not eligible for the HOPE Scholarship out of high school, so what he did was he attended a technical institution, he took courses that would transfer to the university, he was enrolled in a certificate or diploma program for that first year so he used the HOPE Grant to pay for that.
“After his first 30 hours, he made sure he had a 3.0 [GPA] then he transferred those credits to the university system and became HOPE [Scholarship] eligible ... and paid for all four years before graduating.”
Parent Melinda Stoelzle’s son is a freshman at CHS. She said as her son wants to enter the medical field and become a doctor, she wanted to find out where to get started planning for the financial process.
“I know things can change in four years as far as financial assistance, but we want to know [what’s available],” Stoelzle, who attended Meadows’ session, said. “He gave us a lot of pointers, like go local if you can because a lot of [scholarships] are for local people only ... and a lot of people don’t know about [those opportunities].”
Other colleges and organizations present at the event included Kennesaw State University, Chattahoochee Technical College, University of West Georgia, the College Planning Institute and the Etowah Scholarship Foundation.