For high-achieving high school students eager to attend Georgia’s premier research universities, their senior year can be enormously stressful.

Many have sleepless nights obsessing about whether they will earn early admissions to Georgia Tech or the University of Georgia so they can put the college admissions scramble behind them. After all, many years of hard work and good grades should pay off.

What’s most alarming to parents — and Georgia lawmakers — is that too many students who get early admissions for coveted seats like UGA, Tech, Georgia State University and Augusta State are not Georgia residents. My research has found that 58.5 percent of Georgia Tech’s early admissions and 31 percent of UGA’s early admissions in 2019 were from out of state.

That’s why I have introduced the “Keep Georgia Kids First Act.” Senate Bill 282 is an attempt to keep the brightest students in our state and not force them to flee to places like Clemson University, the University of Tennessee or the University of Alabama.

A fall early admissions letter gives a student the opportunity to make definite plans where he or she may want to attend college and not have to explore second or third choices if they don’t make regular admission in the spring.

This proposal is not an attempt to lower standards or grow the size of our universities but do what we as a state government and university system should be doing: prioritize our constituents. The Georgia University System spends about $2.5 billion a year, and it should always put Georgia students first.

With the introduction of the HOPE Scholarship, many of our most talented students no longer rush off to Ivy League schools but make our state’s top research universities their first choice. If two students have equal academic performance during early admissions, then a Georgia student should always be admitted with preference over an out-of-state student.

When I hear stories, such as the young Alpharetta woman with a 4.0 grade average, a 1425 SAT score and a 33 ACT with 10 honors courses who was rejected for early admissions to UGA, I believe these parents and students have a right to complain. This student was offered early admissions to Tulane, Vanderbilt, Clemson and the University of Tennessee. She wound up enrolling at UT in Knoxville, and our state lost a young lady who will likely become a permanent Tennessee resident upon graduation.

Sadly, our University System is too preoccupied with where students originate and employing a balanced system on early admissions than seeking to admit our most prized local students.

We as a state government have a great responsibility to encourage those who excel to apply to our great universities and have confidence that they will get that early signoff to the college of their choice.

State Sen. Brandon Beach, Alpharetta

Beach, a Republican, represents District 21 including parts of Cherokee and North Fulton counties in the Georgia Senate. He is also a member of the Georgia Senate Higher Education Committee.

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