Some students at Savannah State University now have the opportunity to pursue their master’s degree at a lower cost thanks to a new partnership between the university and Grand Valley State.

GPB reports that on Tuesday, the universities signed an agreement that allows undergraduate students at Savannah State to eventually qualify for in-state tuition at Grand Valley in one of three master’s degree programs that are currently offered at Savannah State. These programs include cybersecurity, criminal justice, and communications.

Per the agreement, there will also be funding for campus visits to Grand Valley, scholarship opportunities, internships prior to transfer, graduate assistantships, and industry-sponsored fellowships.

Savannah State University president Kimberly Ballard-Washington speaks at a signing ceremony at the HBCU’s campus, as Grand Valley State University president Philomena Mantella watches remotely from her office near Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Credit: Benjamin Payne / GPB News

Savannah State vice president and interim provost Sametria McFall said that Grand Valley State is interested in diversifying its programs. “And we’re interested in making sure that our students have opportunities for programs that take them to and fro as they get to experience the world and share their talents around the world” McFall added.

“In this day and age, it’s just so important for our students to have the opportunity for additional professional development, additional academic development with little or no expense so that they can start their careers fresh and not under the weight of debt.”

– Sametria McFall, Savannah State Vice President and Interim Provost

According to GPB, the two universities are planning to add engineering and biomedical science to the agreement by the end of the current academic year. The agreement also will include full-ride scholarships for at least two Savannah State students.

“Agreements such as this are near and dear to my heart,” said Grand Valley State Dean of Engineering Paul Plotkowski at a signing ceremony held at Savannah State. “I’m a first-generation college student myself, and I went to school at the school I went at in large [part] due to finances.”

“No institution offers everything, but together we can open up a great deal of more avenues for success [and] opportunity for the students,” Plotkowski said.

Grand Valley State University vice president B. Donta Truss (right) speaks alongside Grand Valley State engineering dean Paul Plotkowski.
Credit: Benjamin Payne / GPB News

McFall says part of the reason the partnership came to be is due to the ties some leaders at Grand Valley have to the University System of Georgia. This includes Grand Valley State Vice President B. Donta Truss, an Atlanta native and former administrator at Fort Valley State University and Albany State University.

“I am happy to be home, I am happy to be amongst family, but more importantly I am happy to be able to help students become more successful,” Truss said at the ceremony.