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New scholarship to aid veterans at UNG Cumming Campus

Five scholarships of $2,000 each will aid veterans enrolled at the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Cumming Campus in the upcoming academic year, thanks to a donation from the Sawnee Electric Membership Foundation.

Cumming vet scholarship
Cumming Campus Executive Director Jason Pruitt receives a $10,000 check from Sawnee representative Cindy Badgett to support scholarships for veterans.

"Sawnee EMC has been a great supporter of our campus here in Cumming since we opened in 2012," said Jason Pruitt, executive director of UNG's Cumming Campus. "We are very excited about this new scholarship and the assistance it will provide to our veterans in this area, and we are very grateful to the Sawnee EMC Foundation for their generous gift."

Sawnee EMC donated $10,000 for the campus to disseminate during the 2016-17 academic year; preference for the awards will be given to qualifying veterans who are enrolled at the Cumming Campus with at least nine hours and who maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.

"It is such a blessing for the Sawnee EMC Foundation to be able to help these students attain their degree, especially after the sacrifices they have made to serve our country," said Blake House, vice president of Member Services at Sawnee EMC. "This is a shining example of what the foundation and Sawnee EMC are all about, which is our commitment to being an integral part of the communities we serve."

According to a study by Student Veterans of American, nearly 52 percent of veterans seeking higher education under the GI Bill between 2002 and 2013 completed their schooling. Chris Cato, a senior veteran student and vice president of the UNG chapter of Student Veterans of American, said scholarships can help alleviate financial stresses for veteran students and offer encouragement to finish their schooling.

"Veterans who begin or return to school are often faced with various other stressors compared to that of their traditional student counterparts — we begin our college journey with years of life already behind us," Cato said. "With those years, we bring the financial burden of life lived. Some have families to provide for, mortgages, auto loans, insurance bills — while the financial programs earned and used by veterans help significantly, scholarship funds are also very important."

Christy Orr, coordinator for UNG's Center for Adult Learners and Military, added that many veterans returning to civilian life are faced with a difficult job market and a long backlog for federal disability benefits.

"These among many other obstacles they face during transitioning from military to civilian life causes great strains not only on the veteran but their family as well," Orr said. "This scholarship will help the veterans receiving it focus more on their education and obtaining their degree."

UNG's Cumming Campus opened in August 2012 with more than 500 students. The campus now serves more than 900 students, including 15 veterans, and mainly offers basic core curriculum and general education courses, as well as master's degrees in business administration and teaching.

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