AMERICUS — The new Southwestern Promise scholarship at Georgia Southwestern State University has been awarded to 188 (and counting) incoming Georgia freshmen, and funds are still available for those hoping to attend GSW this fall.

The scholarship program, established in Hurricane Michael’s aftermath, automatically guarantees scholarships of either $1,000 or $2,000 to beginning freshmen who live in a 56-county region of southwest Georgia. Students living outside the 56-county area are also eligible to receive the scholarship and can apply at gsw.edu/scholarship.

GSW officials say they hope this new program will lessen the financial strain of college for many high school students in the region who may have been impacted by the storm.

Nick Cohen, a scholarship recipient from Baconton and an inaugural member of the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program, said his family was affected by Hurricane Michael with a power outage for two weeks.

“When I realized GSW was offering the Promise scholarship, I immediately considered applying and am so glad I did,” Cohen said. “Even though Michael was a devastating storm, I am thankful this scholarship was created, and I know my family is as well.”

Another scholarship recipient from Americus, Katie Carver, said the Promise scholarship is a blessing because it allows her to focus more on her education than having a job.

“It also relieves my family of the financial burden that college can often be,” Carver said. “As I was deciding which college to attend, the affordable tuition of GSW, along with the scholarships available to me, made it clear that it was the best school for me.”

Currently, there are 188 incoming freshmen who have received the Promise scholarship. Of those, 153 are from within the 56-county Promise area and 35 from outside the area.

Jordan Whitening of Stone Mountain, who lives outside the Promise area, is a scholarship recipient and member of the Carter Leadership Program.

“I had GSW in my Top 5 list, but after visiting campus, they automatically moved to No. 1 over the 39 other colleges I was accepted to,” Whitening said. “I was able to see the family culture between the students and administrators, and I enjoyed the high academic standards and courses that were being offered. Receiving an additional scholarship in the name of the 39th President, Jimmy Carter, was definitely another deciding factor.”

“The Southwestern Promise is truly a commitment to student success at Georgia Southwestern,” Gaye Hayes, GSW assistant vice president for enrollment management, said. “We want to assist students as they work toward their dreams and aspirations. This scholarship is still available for freshmen applicants this fall. Interested students should contact us right away to see how GSW can help them realize their goals.”

Jacob James, a scholarship recipient from Parrott and member of the Carter Leadership Program, said, “This scholarship has proven directly that if you work hard and do well, you will be rewarded. Coming from a family that was never the best off financially, my parents continually pressed my grades, pushing me to do better and better. This scholarship will help take the burden off of them, and I am especially thankful for they are the reason I obtained it.”

For students hoping to receive a “Southwestern Promise” scholarship, there is no deadline; however, students are encouraged to apply for fall semester before July 19. No scholarship application is required for those who live in the 56-county area.

Launching in fall 2019, the program offers two levels of scholarships. Students with 1,100/22 SAT/ACT scores and 3.0 GPA qualify for the “Blue” level at $1,000. Students with 1,200/25 SAT/ACT scores and 3.0 GPA qualify for the “Gold” level at $2,000. The scholarship automatically renews each year up to four years for students who maintain a 3.0 GPA.

GSW restructured the scholarship granting process in 2018, and the “Southwestern Promise” leverages the scholarship dollars already provided by the Georgia Southwestern Foundation and the many donors who support GSW.

The 56-county region includes Atkinson, Baker, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bibb, Bleckley, Brooks, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Grady, Harris, Houston, Irwin, Lanier, Laurens, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Twiggs, Upson, Webster, Wheeler, Wilcox and Worth counties.

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