Superintendent donates his $10K bonus to help with his students' college application fees

Posted at 3:43 PM, Aug 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 15:43:56-04

A superintendent at a public school system in Georgia announced that he would donate his entire $10,000 bonus to help high school seniors with their college application fees.

Grant Rivera, 44, of Marietta, told "Good Morning America" that he received the bonus after his district met certain performance standards, but he "didn't feel it was fair for me as superintendent to profit off the backs of our teachers."

Rivera said he announced earlier this week to his student community that his bonus "would be given to students who decided to apply to college early admission and early action." There are approximately 500 seniors in his district.

"We know that students have an increased chance of getting accepted and increased chance of financial aid," when they apply early, Grant said. "I didn't want senioritis to prompt a kid to miss out on any opportunities."


"What I said to the kids was as an incentive to start this process early," he added. "That I would cover the cost of their application fees for early action, early decision."

Rivera said he wrote a $10,000 check to the Marietta Schools Foundation, and their district's college adviser has a credit card to pay for college applications that directly comes out of that fund.

He said he decided to donate his bonus in part because he wanted to make a "value statement" to school staff, "and I don't feel like I exclusively deserve the bonus when that comes from a collective effort of 14,000 employees."

He said he also wanted to let his students know that, "I believe in you and I'm proud of the work you did to get to this place."

Rivera, a former special education teacher and high school principal, has been superintendent for approximately 2 1/2 years.

If there are any funds remaining after the early action college application process is through, he said he is committed to using any remaining money to get buses and do college tours in Georgia.


Conversely, if student interest in applying early exceeds the $10,000, he said he has committed to covering the fees out of pocket. "I'm not going to tell a single child 'no,'" if they decide to apply early, he told "GMA."

"I’ve had several students reach out to me and say, 'Thank you,' and one of which said I’m working on my UNC-Chapel Hill application right now," Rivera said. "I’ve been very humbled by the degree of appreciation I have received from students, families and staff."

"As a district we place a really high priority on career access and college access this was just in line with our larger community vision," Rivera added.