Free Technical College Education in Georgia a Great Deal

Photo by Jessica Brown

Gov. Nathan Deal was the keynote speaker at the June 1 grand opening of the Barrow Campus of Lanier Technical College. Photo by Jessica Brown

By Rep. Terry England

At June’s grand opening of Lanier Technical College’s new campus in Barrow County, Gov. Nathan Deal talked about one of the best educational opportunities available anywhere in the United States.

It’s right here in Georgia, and we don’t want you to miss out.

Here’s the deal: If you are a Georgia resident eligible for the Hope Grant, you can attend the Technical College System of Georgia tuition free. All you have to do is to take courses that teach job skills in high demand by Georgia industries.

The Hope Grant pays 75 percent of the cost of tuition at a technical college. The newly expanded Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant pays the other 25 percent, with money left over for fees.

The great thing about grants is that they never have to be paid back. So instead of leaving college with a piece of paper and a mountain of debt, you can enter the job market with the latest job skills and no college debt.

Both part-time and full-time students are eligible for the Strategic Industries grant, and qualifying isn’t hard. Just enroll in your local technical college, keep your grade point average at 2.0 overall, and work toward a certificate or diploma in one of 10 industries: Certified Engineer Assistant, Commercial Truck Driving, Computer Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology, Early Childhood Care and Education, Health Science, Movie Production & Set Design, Practical Nursing, Precision Manufacturing, and Welding & Joining Technology.

Technical colleges around the state are now offering 131 certificates or diplomas in those 10 industries.

The Georgia General Assembly began funding the Strategic Industries grant program on a limited basis two years ago. The program was expanded last year. Then after companies participating in the Governor’s High-Demand Careers Initiative expressed concern about the lack of skilled workers to fill jobs in their industries, Gov. Deal significantly expanded the grant program for this fall.

As of July, Georgia had awarded more than $13.6 million in Strategic Industries grants to nearly 21,000 technical college students. Many more will benefit during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Business leaders tell us that within five years, 60 percent of our state’s jobs are going to require training and certification beyond high school. So we encourage you not to let this opportunity slip by.

Make a difference in your future and in Georgia’s future.

Rep. Terry England represents the 116th District in the Georgia House of Representatives and serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He can be reached at englandhomeport2@windstream.net or by calling his legislative office at 404-463-2245.