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The Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) assists low-income, first-generation participants to complete secondary school requirements and enroll in postsecondary education programs.

The EOC provides the following services:

  • Provides information about opportunities for postsecondary training, student financial aid, academic assistance, and career options
  • Advises participants regarding academic preparation, admissions testing, deadlines for applications, course requirements, etc.
  • Offers information and training in financial and economic literacy on topics such as basic personal income, household money management, financial planning skills, and basic economic decision-making skills
  • Counsels and assists in areas of admissions, application completion, and career testing and exploration
  • Assists with financial aid, including defaulted students loans, reinstatement of financial aid eligibility, and completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Provides referrals to other agencies and institutions as appropriate
  • Conducts workshops on attending and surviving college, with lessons in reducing test anxiety, ACT preparation, and funding for college.

The Educational Opportunity Center offers services to several locations, including Knoxville and Athens in the state of Tennessee, Franklin in North Carolina, and Blue Ridge in Georgia.

We also have a large list of helpful resources to get you up to speed and ready for your college career. The resources range from academic, career and educational information to finacial aid and financial literacy.


According to the US Department of Education, participation guidelines state that at least two-thirds of individuals served each year must be both low-income and first-generation.

Service Area

The EOC serves individuals in the following counties in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee through satellite offices in each state:

  • Georgia: Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Rabun, Towns, and Union
  • North Carolina: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, and Swain
  • Tennessee: Anderson, Bradley, Blount, Campbell, Cumberland, Knox, Loudon, McMinn, Meigs, Morgan, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union

Through the Years

Dr. Ernest W. Brewer wrote the initial Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) grant proposal in 1991. EOC is federally funded by a five-year discretionary grant. He immediately hired Vee McGahey to serve as the project director. Together they secured office space, developed partnerships for off-campus offices, and staffed each location. Staff members located at satellite offices include Rebecca Hammond, serving since 1993 in Georgia; Tommy Fouts, joining EOC in 2008 in North Carolina; and Nelson Green, serving since 1997 in Athens, Tennessee. Serving at UT Knoxville are Vicki Thal (nine years) and Pat Danko (ten years).

Since 1991, the project has served more than 28,000 participants, approximately 75 percent of which have been both low-income and first-generation. The majority of EOC participants enroll in a postsecondary institution, working to achieve their stated career goal.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.