A Snapshot of Achieve Atlanta Scholars’ Finances

March 2021


We’ve now had five cohorts of Achieve Atlanta Scholars, and last fall we surveyed a sample of Scholars on their financial situation and unmet financial need. They answered questions about their financial wellness, submitted their financial aid award letters or college bills, and estimated other school-related expenses.

After analyzing the survey responses, we summarized the key findings in the report, A Snapshot of Achieve Atlanta Scholars’ Finances.

Here are some key takeaways, listed below:

  • The Achieve Atlanta Scholarship, in combination with grants and federal loans, significantly reduces Scholars’ unmet need. The median total unmet need among Scholars was only $89, and the average was $878.
  • Still, half of Scholars had at least some unmet need, and 23% faced total unmet need greater than $5,000.
  • Without the AATL Scholarship, 76% of Scholars would have had unmet need, with a median unmet amount of $4,941.
  • Nearly 40% of Scholars took out federal subsidized or unsubsidized loans. Few Scholars took out more expensive types of loans (e.g., PLUS and/or private loans).
  • Scholars who enrolled in out-of-state public institutions and those who lived on campus tended to have higher unmet need than other Scholars.
  • Half of respondents reported struggling to cover school-related expenses. Half also struggled to cover unexpected expenses, pointing to the important role that Achieve Atlanta’s emergency grant program plays to help keep Scholars on track.

As we plan our work for the next academic year, these findings provide important insight into how we can further support Scholars’ financial wellness.

This report is the first of several we plan to publish this year on what we’re learning about our Scholars’ journey toward a college degree. Look for future articles in our blog series on Scholars’ finances on our website or subscribe for updates in your email inbox.

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