Bryce Melton, a high school lacrosse captain for two years, scored a 35 on the ACT and had a 3.8 GPA when he applied to the University of Georgia as an early applicant, confident he would be admitted. He received his deferral letter in November.
“Seeing that I got deferred, especially when I expected to get in, was definitely a little demoralizing,” the Alpharetta High School senior said. “It made me think more realistically than I was.”
Stories like these prompted state Sen. Brandon Beach to pre-file a bill in the Georgia Senate last month. If passed, 90% of all offers of admission for early action applicants to all University System of Georgia research universities — Georgia State University, Augusta University, Georgia Institute of Technology and UGA — must go to Georgia resident students. Beach plans to call the legislation the “Keep Georgia Kids First Act.”
“I’m not for lowering standards. I’m for very high standards. But when we are going to take someone from Florida or Texas because they got two more questions right on the SAT?” Beach said. “We have spent $100,000 educating [in-state students] from K-12 in public education. I want to keep our best and brightest here.”
Other states have implemented similar measures in previous years. In 1986, the University of North Carolina System’s Board of Governors adopted a resolution capping out-of-state enrollment at 18% by 1988. The State University System of Florida doesn’t allow non-resident students to exceed 10% of the university system’s entire enrollment.
Rebecca Beeler, UGA Public Relations Manager, declined to comment on the bill, but said in an email that 82% of UGA Class of 2023 were Georgia residents and that the composition of the accepted early applicants is different from the composition of the actual fall class.
Beach supports gradually increasing the number of students enrolled at UGA overall and acknowledged that requiring USG research universities to follow such legislation will put more demand on the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships.
“It will put more demand on the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships because when we keep 4.0 [GPA] and 1400 SAT-students here in our state, they will qualify for the HOPE Scholarship, but that's a good thing,” Beach said. “We are keeping them here.”
Although gambling is illegal in Georgia, Beach has considered the idea of legalizing sports betting, destination resorts, casino gambling and horse racing in Georgia and appropriating their profits to fund the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships, in the same way the Georgia Lottery currently funds the scholarships. Beach said these new revenue streams could raise $650 to $800 million.
“I'm a firm believer that if we allow kids to go out-of-state to Tennessee, Alabama or Clemson there’s a chance that they go there and don’t come back. We lose those kids,” Beach said. “I want to keep our kids here.”
Correction: In a previous version of this article, it was incorrectly stated that the pre-filed legislation would require all USG research universities accept 90% of their in-state early applicants. Actually, the legislation would require 90% of all offers of admission for early action applicants to all USG research universities go to Georgia resident students. The Red & Black regrets this error, and it has since been fixed.