Sarah Banks Hogg vividly remembers opening the letter alerting her that she had been accepted to the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Program, a scholarship that makes it possible for qualifying low-income, in-state students to earn a debt-free Tech degree. She and her mother stood in the kitchen of their Habersham County home, as Hogg read the letter indicating that the family’s expected financial contribution to Hogg’s college education was zero.
“I had to ask my mom if it was real, if I was understanding it correctly,” she recalled. “I thought maybe it was a mistake, or it was only for a year.”
It soon became apparent that it was not a mistake, and Hogg’s time at Tech would be completely funded by the scholarship. This news came as a windfall to Hogg, whose family’s financial situation had changed drastically following the loss of her father to a battle with cancer when Hogg was 11 years old.
A Future Unclear
When Hogg first set her sights on college, she knew the expense would be a challenge. Regardless, she applied to Georgia Tech and was excited about the prospect of continuing her education. But the elation that came upon acceptance to Tech was quickly followed by the dread of having to discuss the financial implications of a college education.
“I didn’t want to have that conversation with my mom yet,” she said. “I just wanted to be excited before thinking about how we were going to pay for it.”
Luckily, after Hogg and her mother completed her Free Application for Federal Student Aid — commonly known as the FAFSA — she got that fortunate letter in the mail.
“The letter said the expected family contribution was zero, so my family wouldn’t have to pay for anything,” said Hogg. “And seeing that brought a sigh of relief.”
After she realized the offer was real, and that she would be receiving a Tech education without incurring any debt, Hogg was ecstatic. Finally, her dream was becoming a reality.
To Tech and Beyond
When she arrived at Tech, Hogg quickly immersed herself in the culture of Georgia Tech. She joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, among numerous other clubs, and worked in the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Hogg was a proud Tech Promise ambassador during her time working in Admission, and she enjoyed telling prospective students about her experience and what they could expect from a Tech education.
All the while, Tech Promise was fully funding her time at Tech – including her semester abroad at Oxford.
Now that it’s approaching a decade since she graduated in 2013, she advises prospective students, especially those who receive the offer of Tech Promise, to embrace the power of a Georgia Tech degree.
“It’s like a switch flipped in people when I was interviewing for different jobs,” said Hogg. “People know that a Tech degree means that you have an excellent work ethic and that the learning curve between school and a full-time job for a Tech student is small.”
Hogg now works for CapTech Consulting, a technology consulting firm. As part of her work, she gets to come to Georgia Tech for recruitment fairs. For her, interacting with Tech students and showing them what awaits them after graduation is the perfect way to support her alma mater.
As she gets older, understanding the full impact of a debt-free degree has only made her more appreciative.
“I think about what it must have meant for my mom especially,” said Hogg. “She’s a single mom trying to make ends meet, and I think about what her child having the opportunity to go to college debt free would have felt like. It must have been a weight off her chest.”