An educational “Hail Mary” pass

I sent this letter to Office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal as a sort-of “Hail Mary” pass to see what my options are in light of my recent failed CLEP test attempt.  I am back to the drawing board and considering options, but at this moment in time, this seems to be as good an option as anything else out there.

Dear Governor Deal:

I am current a student at Georgia Southwestern State University, where I have been enrolled since September 1992.  In 1997 I left college for a variety of personal reasons, and made a life for myself without having graduated.  It was a hard road, full of debts which I struggle to repay, and working only jobs which I am considered qualified for since I lacked my Bachelor’s degree.  In 2011, I chose to return to my school to finish what I began in order to better my life.

When I began my road back, I learned that my Bachelors of Science Degree in History had been eliminated and that my only option was a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History.  This required an additional six hours of Spanish which has proven extremely difficult, both academically and financially, to complete.  I am at the point where all that remains to complete my degree is nine hours of foreign language.  I have attempted to secure these credit hours through the College Board’s College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) Test, but twice failed to achieve the required score of 63 to secure the remaining nine hours needed to graduate.  I am currently living in Marietta, finding it difficult to secure a good paying job without my Bachelors, and all that is standing in the way of my degree is a foreign language requirement added while I was not enrolled and trying to survive

Adding insult to this injury is the fact that, when I relocated in 2013 from Florida to Georgia in order to qualify for in-state tuition, I later learned my university had begun offering in-state tuition rates to Florida residents.  I had spent nearly $50,000 on out-of-state tuition fees, over 20 years, with nothing to show for it because of a requirement added because my original degree choice was eliminated.  I am not asking for a handout, but rather a solution to this situation.  My advisor is currently exploring my options to finish my education without the language option, but she admitted it would likely require more classes.  I am now carrying a student loan debt load in excess of $100,000 because I have had to defer and forebear for years because my lack of a Bachelor’s limited my employment options.

I am unsure what your office is able to do vis-à-vis the Board of Regents and their requirements, but I do hope you consider my situation, as I have learned that many students across the state are now facing similar challenges.  As stated earlier, I do not wish for a handout, but some form of well-thought solution which takes into account those students who have worked long and hard but, through no fault of their own, find themselves, like I do, at the end of a hard road with nothing to show for it because of a requirement which was added on, to borrow a sports metaphor, late in the game.

I appreciate attention and thought you can give to this matter, and will be forever grateful to you if you are able to find a realistic solution which does not require additional expense or debt to be incurred on my part.  I wish to remain a Georgia resident who can contribute to this state’s growth and, as a writer, would like my experiences with my university days to continue to fuel great stories to help publicize Georgia’s college environment.  Thank you, in advance, for anything you can do.


John Guzzardo

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