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State Announces New Name For Grant Offering Free College Tuition

A grant that enables certain technical education students in Georgia to receive free tuition now has a name that better reflects the grant’s goals.

The HOPE Career Grant, formerly known as the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant, is available to HOPE Grant-qualified students who enroll in select majors specifically aligned with one of 12 industries in which there are more jobs available in Georgia than there are skilled workers to fill them.

These industries were identified by Gov. Nathan Deal’s High-Demand Career Initiative and the General Assembly as strategically important to the state’s economic growth. They are among the many forms of financial assistance available through the Georgia Student Finance Commission.

Dr. Tonya Whitlock, Vice President of Student Affairs at West Georgia Technical College, said she’s excited about the new name and hopes it will help in promotional and recruiting efforts to attract prospective students to the 12 high-demand career programs.

“West Georgia Tech is always elated to provide students another source of funding and to make attending college more affordable,” Whitlock said. “This grant is an important piece, as it helps students prepare to enter industries in the state that have the greatest workforce needs. Having a new name that better reflects the grant’s goals will hopefully make it easier to understand and grasp for students who can benefit from it.”

Gretchen Corbin, Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, said a Georgia student who qualifies for one of the HOPE Career Grants pays “absolutely no tuition,” and in some cases the grants cover fees and equipment, as well.

“This is a great opportunity for students in our 22 colleges and the Georgia companies who seek them,” Corbin said. “We believe the new name will help students understand that a rewarding career is the end goal of the grant.”

The grant, which was implemented in 2013 for three key industries, now benefits qualified students who enroll in the following 12 program areas: certified engineer assistant, commercial truck driving, computer programming, computer technology, diesel equipment technology, early childhood care and education, health science, industrial maintenance, movie production/set design, practical nursing, precision manufacturing, and welding and joining technology.

All of those 12 programs are offered at West Georgia Technical College campuses except for certified engineer assistant and movie production and set design.

To receive the HOPE Career Grant, students must first qualify for the HOPE Grant, which applies to diplomas and certificates only rather than the HOPE Scholarship, which applies to associate and bachelor’s degrees. The HOPE Grant is available for students of any age. A student can attend college part-time and does not have to have a specific high school GPA, but must maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA after enrolling in college.

The HOPE Career Grant is also available to recipients of the Zell Miller Grant, which, in addition to HOPE Grant requirements, stipulates that students must maintain at least a cumulative 3.5 GPA at the end of each college term.

While the HOPE Career Grant opportunities are open for any qualified student pursuing a certificate or diploma at a public college in Georgia, students within the Technical College System of Georgia have been the main beneficiaries. The number of certificates or diplomas in these 12 areas awarded to technical college students in the 2016 academic year was 16,514, up from 11,289 in 2013.

The following is a complete list of certificates and diplomas offered at West Georgia Tech in which students can receive the HOPE Career Grant:



  • Commercial Truck Driving
  • Game Development Specialist
  • Heavy Diesel Service Technology
  • Child Development Specialist
  • Early Childhood Care and Education Basics
  • Infant & Toddler Child Care Specialist
  • Nurse Aide
  • Medical Coding
  • Computed Tomography Specialist
  • PC Repair and Network Technician
  • Mammography
  • Pharmacy Assistant
  • Phlebotomy Technician
  • Industrial Technician
  • Industrial Maintenance Technician
  • Industrial Machining Technician
  • Manufacturing Systems Technician
  • Mechanical Maintenance Specialist
  • Manufacturing Maintenance Technician
  • Manufacturing Production Assistant
  • Manufacturing Technician
  • Basic Electronics Assembler
  • Basic Machine Operator
  • Basic Machinist
  • CNC Specialist
  • Lathe Operator
  • Mill Operator
  • Basic Shielded Metal Arc Welder
  • Gas Metal Arc Welder
  • Gas Tungsten Arc Welder
  • Advanced Shielded Metal Arc Welder
  • Pipe Welder



  • CIS – Networking Specialist
  • Diesel Equipment Technology
  • Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Surgical Technology
  • Electrical Control Systems
  • Electronics Technology
  • Industrial Mechanical Systems
  • Industrial Systems Technology
  • Practical Nursing
  • Machine Tool Technology – CNC Technology
  • Machine Tool Technology
  • Precision Manufacturing and Maintenance
  • Welding & Joining Technology

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