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Back to school? Get ready for the bill


January 4, 2013- ALBANY, GA- As students return to the classroom for a new semester, many are also returning to financial aid offices to make sure they're getting all the help they qualify for.

State and federal programs lend a helping hand to many folks trying to further their education. Officials say programs like the Hope scholarship and grant continue to be a vital part of higher education.

This week, many students have packed college admissions offices in south Georgia, trying to make sure their name is on the roster for this semester's classes.

"We've seen a lot of students come in to apply, complete their admissions application, take the compass entrance exam, and complete their financial aid," said Lisandra DeJesus, VP of Student Affairs at Albany Tech.

About 3,900 students have signed up for classes at Albany Tech. Most of them will get financial aid. "Over 95.96% of our students are eligible for at least one type of aid, financial aid," said DeJesus.

Jarrod Savage is starting his second semester at Albany Tech, where he is pursuing an Associates Degree in law enforcement technology. He is one of thousands of students who rely heavily on state and federal grants to put him through college.

"I would have to pay for my own books, I would have to pay for classes, each semester and for mine that is actually around $1,200 a semester and that's a lot. It's just money that I don't have to pay out of pocket."

He says the state funded Hope grant and federally funded Pell Grant pay for all of his expenses. "HOPE is great. I love hope. Because without hope I would be having to pay pretty much everything out of pocket."

Officials say the financial aid makes college accessible for many students who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it. "Our largest enrollment is in the diploma program. The diploma program is the first credential that most individuals pursue," said DeJesus.

And officials say despite recent requirement changes for Hope, Albany Tech has continued to see an increase in enrollment. Something that could translate into jobs for thousands of students in southwest Georgia.

Albany Tech says their 94% job placement rate continues to grow regardless of harsh economic times. The HOPE grant and scholarship requirements changed a couple of years ago, and now requires students to maintain a 3.0 GPA and apply for money within seven years of graduating high school.

See the original story WALB

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