Marietta school superintendent pays for seniors’ college application fees

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 11:35 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Marietta Schools Superintendent, Grant Rivera, is paying it forward. He’s using money earned in salary bonuses to help high school seniors apply to college.

Rivera says he came up with the idea about four years ago when he learned he could earn performance bonuses for reaching certain milestones.

“When I was hired at Marietta six years ago there was, quite candidly, a clause in my contract that said if I met certain performance targets that I, the superintendent, could get a bonus if the board felt it was appropriate,” Rivera said.” I struggled with that a little bit. I didn’t feel like I, as an individual, deserved a bonus on the backs of our staff and certainly not as the result of the achievement of our kids.”

So he decided to put that cash back in the hands of students by helping them apply for college.

And applications aren’t cheap.

According to U.S News and World Report, the average college app in 2022 is about $45. Some top 100 bucks. That’s why Marietta senior, Parie Desai, took full advantage of Mr. Rivera’s offer.

“I’m applying I think to a total of 16 schools,” Desai said. “Two in-state and the rest out-of-state.”

Desai plans to study environmental engineering, but right now she’s still narrowing down what school she wants to go to. Something hundreds of students at Marietta High School are also deciding. On Wednesday roughly 200 seniors filled out “early action” college applications on Mr. Rivera’s dime. It was part of “Apply to College Day.”

“If kids apply early, they have a greater chance to get in, and they have a greater chance for financial aid and scholarships. And the reality is that senioritis is real. So anything I can do to dangle a carrot, or in this case a credit card, to get them to apply early, we think, will create a lifetime of opportunity.”

Mr. Rivera said, initially, this was only open to students choosing to apply early for colleges. But now he plans to extend the deadline through November.

“None of my friends from other schools, I’ve never had them tell me anything like ‘oh my superintendent has been paying for our applications.’ I think it’s really interesting and really amazing that he does this for us,” Desai said.

If each application from Wednesday’s “Apply to College Day” cost about $50, that means Rivera has already spent roughly $10,000 in application fees. He says his students are worth every penny.

“They’re role models. They’re leaders in the classroom and the community. And this is a small way for certainly me and my family, but all of us in Marietta, to honor them,” Rivera said.