By Tanya Roy
Georgia Tech has long been known as a ‘best buy’ university when it comes to the cost of college. But any price tag for higher education can be a barrier to low income families. A university education is an extremely expensive proposition, with an estimated 95 percent of U.S. colleges being unaffordable for low-income students.
The G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Program (Tech Promise) provides a scholarship, based 100 percent on financial need and offered exclusively to Georgia residents. The program aims to ensure that students from all economic backgrounds have the opportunity to attend college, and it’s even opened the door for many first-generation college graduates.
Tech Promise is one of the most impactful contributions of Georgia Tech President Emeritus and civil engineering alumnus G. Wayne Clough (1994-2008), for whom the program is named. It was established in 2007 after Clough attended a national education symposium and heard how high college costs keep some students from enrolling in science, technology and engineering fields. Clough had always felt a kinship with these students — he grew up in a working-class family, and neither of his parents attended college because they couldn’t afford it.
Tech Promise provides a debt-free degree to qualifying students from low-income families, filling a gap in the financial aid support system by picking up where other scholarships and financial aid options leave off, covering a student’s full cost of attendance.
For some engineering students, the Tech Promise scholarship has made all the difference.
“Georgia Tech opened up many doors and possibilities for me … it allowed me to go all the way across the country with a secure job and pursue whatever I wanted to. The scholarship was a big factor for why I chose Georgia Tech, and I think where I am today is because of Tech Promise.”
“The biggest thing that weighs down on students on top of the stress of classes is financial state. Tech Promise honestly helped a lot to focus more on my studies and be able to enjoy learning without having that over my head.”
“Tech Promise has taken a huge burden off my parents, who are very hard-working individuals, and has given me the opportunity to attend one of the best universities in the nation. Because Georgia Tech believed in me, it made my time there that much more special. The scholarship has inspired me to give back to the community that has given me so much!”
“Tech Promise allowed me to go to the second [highest university] in the nation for chemical engineering. I wouldn’t have even been able to go to college without it. I’ve really enjoyed seeing more people coming from my background being able to come to Tech.”