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Ga. earns grant to boost college completion rate
Deal: Plan will make state more competitive in job market
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As grade schools work toward getting more students in college, colleges are working toward getting more students to stay there.

The Board of Regents approved a draft plan at its Nov. 9 meeting to help colleges increase their completion rates.

"I think that's part of our mission completely," Regent Philip Wilheit of Gainesville said. "I believe the statistics were that 42 percent of Georgians have a college degree or an associate degree or something higher after college. By 2020, 60 percent of jobs will demand a degree. We've got to prepare our young people to take the jobs of the future."

The plan, Complete College Georgia, is part of a nationally funded Complete College America initiative. Gov. Nathan Deal announced in August that the state received funding for it.

"Georgia got $1 million from Complete College America to work on remediation. Some of our students go on to college and aren't ready to do credit learning coursework," said Kristin Bernhard, educational policy adviser for the governor's office.

Deal said in a USG news release the plan will make Georgia more competitive in the job market.

Complete College Georgia has several components, including working with the Georgia Department of Education to have more college-ready students graduating from high school.

A main facet of the program is to make further collaboration possible between the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia.

"That's something Gov. Deal really wants to see happen," Wilheit said. "It will make it somewhat seamless if a student wants to go to Gainesville State College, transfer to Lanier Tech and then go back."

The plan calls for target college graduation rate goals by every institution in the TCSG and the USG as well as development of success measures and goals to meet the mission of both systems and institutions.

Complete College Georgia will also create a needs-based scholarship through the Higher Education Funding Commission, Bernhard said.

"The work of this commission will help us ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used to boost our No. 1 tool for economic development: a talented, highly educated workforce," Deal said in a news release from his office.

The commission includes USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby, Wilheit, college administrators, elected officials and business leaders.

She said it has not been determined how colleges' plans for completion and remediation will be ranked.

The remediation initiative will be piloted with College of Coastal Georgia, Gwinnett College, Athens Technical College and DeKalb Technical College.

"Gov. Deal gets it: Doing more of the same will not boost student success or get Georgia the additional college graduates it must have to be competitive," Complete College America President Stan Jones said in a news release from the governor's office.

"Georgia's innovative pilot program promises to significantly increase college completion ... and give taxpayers more of what they expect from their hard-earned investments in higher education: college graduates."