A new report says Georgia is the only state in the South that doesn’t offer any tuition grants to public college students based on financial need. The report from Georgia Budget and Policy Institute urges the state to shift from a system that only offers low-interest loans based on merit to one where some aid is determined by need.

The GBPI report argues that the state should reallocate $20 million that is currently being used to provide low-interest loans to be spent instead on tuition grants for low-income students.

Cedric Johnson, who wrote the GBPI report, believes helping low-income students afford college will increase the number of graduates. And he says that’s important because experts project that by 2020, most jobs will require post-secondary credentials.

"We think it’s really important that we view access to higher education as part of our economic development strategy going forward," Johnson says. "And in that sense, a targeted need-based financial aid program is an opportunity to align our economic goals with public policies that we enact."

Georgia eliminated its only need-based financial aid programs this year, leaving only the low-interest loan program and the HOPE scholarship, which is distributed to students based on high grade point averages.