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Monday, February 28, 2011 - 1:05pm

Audit Questions Private College Grants

In a recent report state auditors question whether taxpayers are getting their money’s worth from a grant to private college students.

It costs Georgia about $6,000 a year to educate a student at a public college or university.

A student attending a private institution can get $775 a year in grant money.

Governor Deal wants to edge that down to $700.

Lisa Keefer with the Department of Audits says it’s not clear if the state money is enough to push students toward private schools, where tuition is often much higher.

"If it is then yes it’s saving the state money," says Keefer. "if it’s not," she says, "then the state is spending potentially too much money."

President Larry Schall of the private Oglethorpe University in Atlanta says every bit of money makes a difference.

"A thousand dollars would help more than $700," says Schall. "But $700 is a significant amount if you think these students are making $6 or $7 an hour working at Starbucks."

The report says private school students are less concerned with cost than their public school counterparts.

It also says the grants would have to entice 4,000 students to choose a private college for the state to break even.

Georgia doesn’t keep track of how many students are going to private schools because of the grant alone.

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