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$50K donation from AT&T will help low-income students pay GED

AT&T recently donated $50,000 to the Technical College System of Georgia to create a General Education Diploma testing scholarships for qualified, low-income students. Pictured, from left, are TCSG Board Chairman Paul Holmes, TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson, AT&T Georgia President Sylvia Russell, TCSG Assistant Commissioner for Adult Education Beverly Smith and TCSG GED Testing Program Director Latanya Overby.

AT&T recently donated $50,000 to the Technical College System of Georgia to create a General Education Diploma testing scholarships for qualified, low-income students. Pictured, from left, are TCSG Board Chairman Paul Holmes, TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson, AT&T Georgia President Sylvia Russell, TCSG Assistant Commissioner for Adult Education Beverly Smith and TCSG GED Testing Program Director Latanya Overby.

Clarkston -- Georgia's adult learners who can't afford the cost of a GED test are getting some big help from AT&T.

The telecommunications giant has donated $50,000 to the Technical College System of Georgia to create a General Education Diploma testing scholarships for qualified, low-income students. The fund will be administered through the TCSG Office of Adult Education, which manages the state's GED instruction and testing programs.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College has the largest Adult Education Program in the State of Georgia.

"Last year 1,512 people received their GED at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Currently there are 5,681 students enrolled in ABE (Adult Basic Education)/GED or ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.The scholarship that will be available is going to help a lot of worthy students achieve their GED and progress on to higher education," says Dr. Martha Coursey, Dean of Adult Education at GPTC.

Sylvia Russell, the president of AT&T Georgia, recently presented the check to TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson during the meeting of the TCSG State Board. Russell is also a member of the TCSG board, which is responsible for overseeing the policies and procedures for Georgia's technical colleges and their technical education, adult education and workforce training programs.

"I know first-hand the strong track record of the Technical College System of Georgia and the great work they're doing to create a strong workforce," said Russell. "We're proud to play a role in their efforts to support adult education in our state."

Jackson thanked Russell for AT&T's generosity and the company's desire to help less-fortunate Georgians use adult education to improve their lives and standing in their communities.

"This donation by AT&T could not have come at a more important time," said Jackson. "The challenging economic conditions and rising costs have forced many of Georgia's adult learners to put off or even forego taking their GED test, which means that they're giving up on an opportunity that could lead to a better job and more promising career. Now, thanks to AT&T, some very deserving adult learners will be able to pay their fees and take the GED test in the coming year."

The donation will create an opportunity for almost 800 low-income Georgians to receive a $65 voucher to be used toward the cost of the full GED test. To be considered for the award, the learner must attend a state-approved adult education class and have a minimum score of 500 on each of the five GED practice exams that cover reading, writing, science, social studies and mathematics.

Currently, Georgians pay $95 to take the full battery of GED tests. The cost is expected to rise in the spring when a new, computer-based test is deployed in collaboration with the national GED Testing Service in Washington. The TCSG will announce the new fee in the coming months.

There are 1.2 million adults in Georgia who do not have a high school or GED diploma. Last year, the TCSG Office of Adult Education served almost 82,000 Georgians through Adult Basic and Secondary Education and GED instruction and testing programs.

More than 19,000 of those adult learners passed the GED test and earned their GED diploma. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 Statistical Abstract, a person with a high school or GED diploma earns approximately $10,000 more annually than a person without those education credentials.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College, a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, promotes a student-centered environment for lifelong learning and development, encompassing academic and technical education for employment in a global community. The college has nine centers of learning in DeKalb, Newton, Rockdale and Morgan counties.

For more information, visit the school's website at www.GPTC.edu.