ATLANTA — The University System of Georgia’s new direct admissions program is off to a strong start, despite not getting off the ground until well after classes began last fall, system Chancellor Sonny Perdue said Wednesday.

Nearly 12,000 high school seniors had requested information about the Georgia Match program through Jan. 7 or taken it a step further by claiming a spot at one of the system’s 23 colleges and universities participating in the initiative.

“It’s working as we hoped,” Perdue told members of the university system’s Board of Regents. “(But) it’s the beginning. We’re just getting started.”

More than 132,000 seniors received personalized letters from Gov. Brian Kemp last October listing the public universities, colleges and technical colleges they are academically eligible to attend. The letters went on to explain how students can claim a spot being held for them at the institution of their choice.

Georgia’s workforce development needs drove the planning for Georgia Match, an effort the Governor’s Office put together in collaboration with the Georgia Student Finance Commission, the university system, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, and the state Department of Education.

Three university system institutions — the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College & State University — are not participating in the program because they have different, more stringent admission requirements.

The schools that are participating will waive application fees again in March to encourage students to take part in the program, as they did last November.

“This seems like an excellent generator of applications,” said Scott Lingrell, the university system’s vice chancellor for research and policy analysis, who gave the regents an update on Georgia Match.

Several regents said they were impressed with the results so far and the program’s proactive nature.

“It’s incredible what we’re doing,” said Regent Jose Perez of Peachtree Corners. “We’re chasing students and trying to bring them in.”

Lingrell said he expects Georgia Match to take off in a big way heading into the fall semester this year since the system is offering the program earlier in the year than in 2023.

The program is expected to cost $1.3 million during its first year, funding that is included in the Georgia Student Finance Commission’s fiscal 2024 budget.

Interested high school seniors and their families can log onto for more information on Georgia Match.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat.