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Faces of Hope blog

UGA student loses Zell Zell Miller Scholarship, picks up stress, significant debt

UGA student loses Zell Zell Miller Scholarship, picks up stress, significant debt

Nicolle Sartain of Lawrenceville earned the Zell Miller Scholarship — which

covers 100 percent of college tuition — as a freshman at the University of

Georgia in 2014 / 2015, but lost it in her sophomore year after sticking out a tough

economics class and watching her grade point average fall a fraction below the

required 3.3 GPA.



Nicolle, editor of UGA’s independent student newspaper The

Red & Black, is now heading into her junior year with the HOPE Scholarship,

which covers only 75 percent of UGA’s tuition. Nicolle has racked up $8,658 in

debt and is looking at taking on another $3,570 loan, for a total of $12,408. She

knows that’s far less than the debt of students who don’t have either Zell or

HOPE. But it’s still scary, she said.


After looking at the exact numbers, I am worried about how I am going to be able to pay it off



I’ve had a job every semester of college –– in some semesters, two jobs. But when I

graduate, there’s no job guarantee anywhere. Nicolle graduated with a 4.0 from

Gwinnett County’s Mountain View High School in 2014. She’s working hard to

again qualify for the Zell Miller. Of course the worry is that I get it back and then

lose it again,dz she said. In her circle of friends, the conversation is seldom about

passing a particular course. It’s: Am I going to keep HOPE? Am I going to keep

Zell? she said.


Credit: Nancy Badertscher

Faisal Ismail Gedi Click

Faisal Ismail Gedi Click

Clarkston High School honor graduate Faisal Gedi never entertained the idea of going to college out of state. "HOPE was a HUGE factor in my plan for college," said Gedi, who is attending Georgia Tech on a Zell Miller Scholarship, which covers 100 percent of tuition costs and is the highest scholarship available through HOPE. He graduated from Clarkston High in 2014 with a 3.95 grade point average. He started out at the University of Georgia and is now at Tech. He also did a summer semester at Georgia Perimeter College. Gedi, who currently has a 3.65 GPA, is majoring in computer science and hopes to graduate no later than May 2019. "I don't think I would be attending college without the scholarship," he said. Maintaining the required 3.3 GPA or higher has been challenging. "It is very hard," he said. "At times I almost wanted to change my major into something easier just so that I could keep HOPE."

Credit: Nancy Badertscher