Georgia officials thought as many as 15,000 college students would apply for a new low-interest loan. Instead, 5,181 students did, and officials said Monday that they may reopen the application cycle.
Lawmakers funded the Student Access Loan Program when they overhauled the HOPE scholarship, lowering the award amount for recipients. The new loans won't cover all college costs but could fill financial holes for families who have exhausted other options.
The state gave $20 million to the Georgia Student Finance Commission for the loan program. The commission, which also oversees HOPE, estimated the average award would be $3,500 and about 5,700 students would receive money. If estimates hold true, the commission will have about $1.8 million left after processing all applications. Should that happen, the commission will accept another round of applications.
"We don't want to have any money left," said Tracy Ireland, director of the commission's post-secondary student and school services. "We think more families need help."