Low-income adults in Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina’s rural areas will now have greater access to postsecondary education, thanks to a federal grant recently awarded to the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.
The Educational Opportunity Center’s five-year, $2.3 million competitive grant from the US Department of Education will enable the center to provide counseling and information on college admissions to more than 1,500 adults annually in twenty-seven counties in East Tennessee, North Georgia, and Western North Carolina.
The center also serves students still in high school as well as high school dropouts. The goal is to increase the number of adults in postsecondary education programs.
The grant will offer services to improve participants’ financial and economic literacy. The center staff will advise students on financial aid options, including basic financial planning skills, and assist in the application process.
“I believe that education is the answer to improving their life circumstances,” said Vee McGahey, project director of the center, who was part of the first generation in her family to attend college. “There are a lot of resources for low-income students, but they just don’t know what they are.”
The center links adult students to those resources, she added, and “removes as many barriers as possible to postsecondary education—financial being the major one.”
McGahey works with Ernest Brewer, director of UT’s College Access and Persistence Services (CAPS) Outreach Center, who wrote the federal grant application. The CAPS Center is in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies within UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.
The Educational Opportunity Center is partnering with agencies in the counties served, including community colleges, technical institutes, career centers, and adult education programs to identify potential students and connect them with needed services.