Tech introduces new Val-Sal scholarship policy

President Cabrera announced the Val-Sal scholarship at his Institute Address, emphasizing the value of diversity at Tech. // Photo by Alex Dubé Student Publications

Tech has expanded its Georgia Tech Scholars program by adding a new Val-Sal Scholarship. This scholarship is offered to valedictorians and salutatorians from across the state who have demonstrated financial need.

The Georgia Tech Scholars program has been in place since August 2017 and promises admission to any valedictorians and salutatorians from Georgia under certain conditions. Valedictorians and salutatorians must apply for first-year admission, be named either the valedictorian or the salutatorian by one of Georgia’s SACS accredited high schools with proof from a school official, meet all the Board of Regents requirements, meet minimum test score thresholds and complete a math course at the pre-calculus level.

This extension is a part of the Institute’s continuing efforts to keep top talent in the state of Georgia. Despite continuing efforts in the past few years, there are still many counties, high schools and communities across the state that Tech doesn’t receive applications from.

“Seven years ago, the Georgia Tech scholars program was launched to address that issue, and adding this financial component amplifies the message that not only will you be admitted, but it is affordable to attend as well,” Richard Clark, Georgia Tech’s Assistant Vice Provost and Executive Director of Undergraduate admissions, said. 

Beginning in fall 2024, a $2,500 scholarship will be offered annually to valedictorians and salutatorians in Georgia whose families make under $75,000 yearly and have demonstrated financial need. Valedictorians and salutatorians who also qualify for the Pell Grant may also be awarded an additional $2,500, potentially amounting to a $5,000 scholarship per year. Georgia residents are also eligible for the Hope or Zell Miller scholarship which covers 100% of college tuition for students who maintain a certain GPA threshold. 

“This scholarship is geared towards students who come from families where paying for college will be a severe challenge — we expect that most will come from families with annual household incomes of under
$75,000,” said Clark. 

Programs like these aim to retain top talent within the state of Georgia by encouraging students across the state to apply by offering more financial assistance and career opportunities. By drawing in more applicants, Tech hopes to build a more diverse community of intelligent minds. 

“We are attempting to build a bridge to all corners of the state through the scholarship and simultaneously remove the financial barriers that would otherwise push a student to attend a different institution or not
attend college at all,” Clark said.

Over the last 5 years, Tech has enrolled 843 valedictorians and salutatorians from 320 high schools across Georgia. After years of hard work, an acceptance to Tech is a big achievement for students, and for those named valedictorians and salutatorians, this program and scholarship is the cherry on top. 

“I think it’s really rewarding, and I like that Tech is offering this. It gives people options and opportunities,” said Sahithya Pasagada, second-year CS and the Class of 2022 valedictorian of West Cobb High School in
Cumming, GA.

Scholarships and programs like these offered by Tech pave the way for further equity and reach underserved communities. 

“I come from a country where I had a lot of resources to do well in school, and I know a lot of schools in GA don’t have these opportunities but have hard-working students. So the fact that Tech is offering this financial aid and auto admission will help people overcome generational challenges and further their academic
abilities,” Pasagada said. 

With these opportunities, the university hopes to reach its goal to increase the share of lower-income students from 15% to 20% by 2025.

President Ángel Cabrera discussed this goal in this year’s Institute Address on Aug. 31.

“We now have leaders throughout the Institute who have demonstrated a commitment to this work,” said Cabrera, “and I will be considering some changes to empower them further to continue to build a more inclusive, more diverse and more equitable Georgia Tech.”

Beyond the Val/Sal Scholarship, Tech offers more than 850 institutional scholarships for both in and out-of-state students who display extraordinary merit, financial need, leadership skills or academic performance. 

“By design, this award will help students who might not otherwise be able to afford a Tech education while also recognizing their academic achievements,” said Paul Kohn, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, in an announcement about the new scholarship. 

Tech aims to offer more scholarships to students from low-income families through the Transforming Tomorrow campaign. Another goal of the Institute is to meet the demonstrated financial need of transfer students since they make up 25% of the new students at Tech. Clark emphasizes the enriching value of diversity at the Institute.

“Any student or alum can tell stories about the benefit they gained by being surrounded by people on campus who come from vastly different backgrounds than their own. Expanding programs that enhance student financial support is a critical continuation of that important trajectory,” Clark said.