We are the Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP) founded in 1946 after WWII, an idea of Rotarian and Past District Governor Will Watt of Thomasville. It was his dream that students from war-torn Europe, eager for peace, could come to the US and study in colleges and universities and learn about the American way of life. The first class consisted of four students; today we are proud to have over 3,600 alumni spread across the world. We are a project of all the Rotary Districts in the State of Georgia. There is no other program like ours in the world.
We offer scholarships to international students to come and study at the university level in the state of Georgia for one academic year beginning August and ending the following May.
We send out information to District Governors and Rotary Clubs throughout the Rotary World. Our alumni serve as champions and recruiters for our program in their home countries and along their travels around the world. Rotarians from Georgia promote GRSP when they travel and represent us well at Rotary District, Zone and International Conferences. Of course, our website has global reach too. Hence, our applicants span the globe and hear of us in various ways. We hope you will share the good news of GRSP with others too!
An applicant must be 18 but not 25 by August 1 of the year they begin Fall Semester with GRSP, cannot have studied in the US for longer than four months and they must be single.
ONE YEAR, NON-DEGREE SEEKING PROGRAM – Our program’s aim is to promote world peace and understanding through the means of education. Some students do remain in the US after their GRSP year, at their own expense, to obtain a degree. We have no obligation to support them, nor do we have any control over them forcing them to go home.
AMBASSADORIAL SCHOLARSHIP – However, students must carry a full load of subjects and maintain good academic standing in school. Students sign a permission form releasing transcripts to GRSP that become a part of their file.
EXCHANGE PROGRAM – No US Student goes to another country in exchange for an international student in Georgia. In the broadest sense, however, we do exchange cultures and make lasting friendships.
NEEDS-BASED SCHOLARSHIP – Students must pay their transportation to and from the US, purchase medical insurance, provide proof of access to $3,000.00 spending money while in the US, and pay any taxes imposed on the scholarship money by the US Government. Indigent students cannot finance this amount of money.
ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP – Students must meet the entrance criteria for the school they are chosen to attend but students are not selected merely on academic performance.
Each year Rotary Clubs across Georgia are given the opportunity to sponsor a student. Sometimes multiple Clubs will pool their resources together to sponsor a student collectively. Once host clubs are identified and committed, a book of one-page summaries about each applicant is sent to the President-elect of each sponsoring Rotary Club. From that book the Clubs choose several students they wish to sponsor, as well as the school their student will attend. The GRSP Trustees then gather all requests and attend a student selection meeting in on behalf of their host clubs. The selection is conducted in a draft format with well-defined procedures that ensure a fair process. Once selections are made, students receive a scholarship offer. Students who accept the offer begin their college admissions process. If a student does not choose to accept the scholarship, the Club will then go back and select another student from the remaining pool of unselected applicants, and extend the opportunity to another student.
Students are required to live on campus but have the local support of host families in each club. A good relationship between host and student is vital to making our program work. Ideally any problems that may arise can be solved with the help of the host family. The Host Family is literally the student’s USA Family and should treat their student as they would their own child. Host families begin communicating with the student immediately after the student’s acceptance into school. They tell the student when to come, meet them at the airport, allow them to stay in their home prior to moving into the dorm and assist them with that move. They invite them “home” on weekends, call them, and establish a good relationship with them. Clubs and Host Families do not have any financial obligation to the student beyond the amount they pay to GRSP for their pledge.
We have a Chair, Vice-Chair, each District has a Chair and there are Trustees who are in charge of various responsibilities, and sit on many different committees that work to carry out the business of the Program. All men and women within this structure receive no compensation at all for their time, nor are they reimbursed for any expenses incurred while attending the three scheduled meetings each year.
The Trustee is the liaison between the club and the home office and is the vital link that keeps GRSP running smoothly. Trustees are responsible for knowing their students, the host families, and the club presidents and making sure that the students are being cared for in an acceptable manner. It is also their responsibility to promote GRSP at the Club level and encourage the Clubs to give to the Endowment. Trustees play a major role in the student selection process by working with the individual clubs to makes sure they have their commitment forms in the home office by the deadline.
The GRSP Home Office is located in Savannah, Georgia. Barbara Lariscy, administrator, and Holly Baker, assistant administrator, are the only two paid employees. They manage the day-to-day operations of the program. The staff oversees accounts receivable and accounts payable, financial bookkeeping, report generation, donor recognition, record keeping, meeting coordination, GRSP promotion to Rotary Clubs around the world, and all GRSP correspondence to trustees, clubs, host families and students. The staff is also directly responsible for the student application process, generating and distributing the student selection books, college and universities relations, student admissions, and paying student bills per the GRSP scholarship terms.
The intent of the GRSP program is for you to completely immerse yourself in American culture. Students are asked to not make plans to travel home at any time throughout the year unless there is a major family emergency. You spending time with your host families on weekends, breaks and holidays is mission critical to GRSP. These are the best times for you to experience American culture and share yours with us.
Many students do travel outside of Georgia while in the program. Often times students will be invited to travel as a guest with their host families on family vacations throughout the year. Sometimes GRSP students will plan weekend trips together outside of organized GRSP weekends. Any travel adventures are at the expense of the student. We do insist that our students keep their travel to a minimum and in balance with their studies, GRSP commitments, and time spent with your GRSP host families and clubs. Weekends, breaks and holidays are prime times for you to spend time with your host families and clubs.
All travel must be approved by your host families and Trustees. Any travel outside the United States is strongly discouraged. Traveling outside the US requires your college/university’s approval as they oversee the issuance of your visa. It is important to note that travel permissions can change quickly based upon international relations and current events, so if you leave the US we cannot guarantee that you will be allowed back in the US when you try to return.