Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors, the University of Georgia has established more than 500 endowed, need-based scholarships, creating new, permanent pathways to higher education for Georgia residents from low-income backgrounds.
“This achievement is a testament to the desire of so many individuals, families and organizations to make a positive difference in the lives of our students,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am deeply grateful to our donors for their incredible generosity and their commitment to our great university.”
Announced in January 2017 and catalyzed by a $30 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, the Georgia Commitment Scholarship (GCS) Program doubles donors’ impact with a match from the UGA Foundation. To date, more than 320 donors have committed their resources to the program.
In addition, several donors, inspired by the GCS Program, have committed more than the maximum $500,000 match, creating 32 endowed scholarships outside of the program as well as additional programming support for students.
The result is more than $77 million committed to need-based aid at the University of Georgia in just three years.
By providing support to UGA undergraduates with the greatest financial need, the GCS Program is a powerful tool for removing barriers and opening doors to education, a priority of the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign. And by providing that support to students across Georgia, the program creates a richer community on campus and stronger communities all over the state.
“This scholarship has impacted not only me but also my family. Having the financial burden of education lifted from our shoulders has given me the ability to focus on what matters most at UGA,” said Kiarra Freeman, a nutritional sciences major. “I am beyond grateful for the resources, assistance and aid that the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program has provided for me while I have been at UGA.”
GCS donors run the gamut from young alumni councils to corporate partners to UGA Foundation Trustees.
The Division of Academic Enhancement, a partner in the GCS Program, offers tutoring, workshops, academic coaching and other support, including seminars for first- and third-year students geared toward introducing them to campus resources and preparing them for career and internship searches, respectively.
These resources contributed to the 98% retention rate the program recorded between fall 2018 and fall 2019.
“With this scholarship program, the opportunities are endless,” said Eli Owens, an exercise and sport science major. “The GCS program has enriched my college life greatly by providing me with financial aid, introducing me to new amazing friends, providing me with an awesome support group and so much more.”
The students supported by the GCS Program make up a unique and diverse segment of UGA’s student body. The top majors among GCS recipients are biology, psychology, finance, political science and computer science.