Only Georgia’s top-performing high school students would continue to receive free public college tuition under sweeping changes Gov. Nathan Deal and Republicans proposed Tuesday for the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.
Under than plan, HOPE would pay for full public college tuition for those students who earn a 3.7 grade point average or better and who also receive at least a 1200 on the SAT. That represents about 10 percent of current HOPE recipients. Students with at least a 3.0 grade point average would receive 90 percent of their tuition.
For years, HOPE has provided free public college tuition to those students with a 3.0 grade point average or better.
Deal said Tuesday the state was taking action “to strengthen the HOPE balance sheet.” The Republican governor argued that even with the cuts, HOPE would continue to be among the most generous scholarship programs in the nation.
Click here to see a press release by Gov. Nathan Deal.
In Rome, Georgia Highlands College President Randy Pierce said because 20 percent of GHC students qualify for HOPE, he applauds the governor for making an effort to save the program.
“Its original intent was to make higher education accessible to all Georgians, and it has certainly accomplished that with transformative results in many student lives,” said Pierce. “It has helped more than 1 million students and given them not just the hope, but the reality that college will be available to them.”
Craig McDaniel, president of Georgia Northwestern Technical College, said he is concerned about some of the cuts, but praised Deal and his staff for preserving the scholarship and grant for technical college students.
“The loss of the book voucher and fees will most likely present the greatest challenge to our students, but we will make every effort to assist students in acquiring their text-books. We will make this work,” said McDaniel.
HOPE would no longer pay for books, fees or remedial classes, under the plan.
Fees that would not be covered at GHC amount to $317, but that number could jump to $367 in the fall if the Regents approve a new $50 athletic fee college officials have asked for. McDaniel said he was still looking into how the proposed changes would affect his students.
Students whose grades slip while in college would have only one chance to win the scholarship back. High school students would need to take more rigorous classes to qualify for HOPE. And technical college students who receive HOPE grants would for the first time need to demonstrate they are earning good grades.
For years, HOPE has been tied to tuition, rising each time the state Board of Regents voted for an increase, but Deal’s plan would separate the two and cut HOPE awards for students. The plan would trim HOPE for students attending private colleges in Georgia from $4,000 to $3,600.
Click here to see a statement by the Technical College System of Ga. Commissioner Ron Jackson regarding the proposed changes to the HOPE Program.