Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship Faces Funding Fallout

Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship Faces Funding Fallout

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Georgia’s public and private college students will soon face a tougher road to get state financial assistance to complete their classroom studies.

The state’s highly-acclaimed HOPE Scholarship has encountered funding challenges as more students choose post-secondary schools in Georgia. Funded by the Georgia Lottery, the HOPE Scholarship is coming under increased scrutiny from the Georgia General Assembly as budgets tighten and tuition costs rise.

The program, started in 1993, awards scholarship money to Georgia high school students who keep their grade point averages at or above a 3.0 in a college preparatory curriculum. Those receiving scholarship funds must attend an in-state college, university, or technical college. Once enrolled in a post-secondary program, they must meet further GPA requirements to maintain the scholarship.

The main funding issue stems from the state’s lottery revenues. As the economy has faltered, so has discretionary spending on gambling. Combine that with a tuition prices nationwide trending above inflation, and the funds simply have not been flowing in fast enough to keep up with educational demand. The program is facing a $244 million shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year. That figure is expected to increase to $371 million by the end of the 2012 fiscal year, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The program has reserves to cover the shortfalls for the next two years.

Another issue nagging lawmakers is the lack of an income cap on the families of HOPE Scholarship applicants. When the program was first started, families were not allowed to earn more than $66,000 per year. That figure was increased to $100,000, and then eliminated altogether in 1995. Critics have complained that wealthier families have drained some of HOPE’s resources by not handling more of the bill they can afford.

For African-American students, who are more likely to depend on scholarship money for school, the outlook is not good. Nationally, Black students from low and middle-class families are less likely to immediately enroll in college, according to research provided by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In Georgia, with less money potentially available, this will have an immediate impact on students of color from cash-strapped families. The research also shows that, nationally, only 42 percent of Blacks complete college – a statistic that can only worsen with a lack of funding in a state dependent on state funds for college.

The Georgia General Assembly is expected to tackle the issue with legislation in early 2011. Members of the Higher Education Committee of the state’s House and Senate determined to make this issue a priority for the entire legislative body.

3 COMMENTS

  1. If there is a funding gap to pay for those students that should receive HOPE, then the requirements to receive the scholarship should be set to higher standards. Students must achieve a higher GPA or be required to miss only so many days of school. Students should be rated on academic performance only. The students that work the hardest to keep their grades up should be awarded the HOPE scholarship regardless of what their parent’s salary is!

  2. I say cap the house hold income average for last 5 years and prorated with of children in house hold. If you make $100K for the last 5 years and have 1 kid you should be able to afford to pay for college. vs someone that has $100K and 4 kids. Crunch the numbers over the last few year if this does not take care of it then.
    Change the pay out on the lottery to award to HOPE money based on size of the winning pay outs in a sliding scale + normal take per sale. If that does not do it then raise GPA up 3.1-3.5 until you get balance of student cost to number attending to equal intake of funds of 1 year prior receipts that should be held in escrow for 1 year prior to HOPE pay out.

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