Preserve Hope Scholarships | Georgia Scholarships
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Georgia Lottery funds a variety of student programs

Georgia Lottery funds a variety of student programs

Ask most Georgians what HOPE means, and the answer will likely be “that college scholarship program.”  Singular.  In fact, HOPE Scholarships are a collection of six different programs, the largest of which is quickly becoming a victim of its own success.


In 1993, the vision set in motion by Gov. Zell Miller and the General Assembly was to cover full tuition at a state college or university for Georgia students who earn a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). It was a startling success from the beginning. In its first year it served more than 42,000 students.


Over the years, other programs have been added to the basic HOPE Scholarship. The six HOPE programs funded by the Georgia Lottery are:

·       The general HOPE Scholarship, which provides partial tuition funding for Georgia students who graduate high school with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.69.

·       The Zell Miller Scholarship for high-achieving students that provides full tuition payment for those with a 3.7 GPA at high school graduation. They must maintain a 3.3 GPA to keep the scholarship.

·       The Zell Miller Grant, a merit-based program available to Georgia residents pursuing a certificate or diploma. A recipient must maintain a minimum 3.5 cumulative postsecondary GPA to remain eligible for full-standard tuition assistance while enrolled at a Zell Miller Grant eligible college or university in Georgia.

·       The HOPE Grant, available to Georgia residents who earned a General Education Development (GED) diploma after June 30, 1993, awarded by the Technical College System of Georgia. The Grant provides a one-time $500 HOPE award that can be used toward tuition, books or other educational costs at an eligible college or university in Georgia.

·       A Strategic Workforce Development Grant for students enrolled in studies deemed important to the Georgia economy.

·       The HOPE GED Grant, available to those who earn a General Education Development diploma.


The Lottery also funds a voluntary pre-kindergarten program (Pre-K) open to any four-year-old.


The diverse programs of the HOPE Scholarships have served more than 1.7 million students with assistance worth more than $8 billion, but increased demand and rising costs have limited the state’s ability to offer full tuition to everyone.


In 2011 the General Assembly, reacting to a funding gap created by unanticipated demand, enacted significant reforms to HOPE, but the changes had consequences. Because academic standards for obtaining and keeping HOPE were raised dramatically, many students were forced out of the program. What’s more, the number receiving full-tuition scholarships to colleges and universities plunged 89 percent from 102,311 in 2010-11 to 10,809 the next year, when most of the reforms went into effect.


Once again Georgians need to consider ways to keep all the HOPE Scholarships financially sound for coming generations of students.


Hope Facts

Stop the Brain Drain

Stop the Brain Drain

The Georgia Lottery Corp. sent $362.6 million to the state treasury for HOPE and Miller’s other education priorities in 1994. By 1997, that annual contribution was up 60 percent, to $581.4 million.

For years, HOPE seemed like an endless parade of good fortune. Georgia was reversing the “brain drain” of high achieving students going out of state for a quality education. Because they could find and afford it here, they stayed. At its peak in 2010, HOPE was picking up the annual tuition costs for more than 250,000 students and the program was well on the way to putting $8 billion into higher education for 1.7 million college, university and technical school students. 

Read more in our new report.

Georgia Strong

Georgia Strong: Preserve HOPE Scholarships for the Future of Georgia

Georgia Strong: Preserve HOPE Scholarships for the Future of Georgia

Fact 1.

Student demand for the scholarships has been high – in most years, at least a third of all of the state’s college and university students have had HOPE for at least a semester.



Fact 2.

HOPE, and its impact on higher education in Georgia, also became a selling point to persuade regional and national companies to expand into Georgia. Executives of all companies could promise employees access to quality higher education and the opportunity for tuition help through HOPE Scholarships.



Fact 3.

Chris Clark, president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 2015 interview that his staff talks at length to potential business recruits about HOPE and Pre-K.
“We always lead with our University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. They are the envy of the nation.”

Fact 4.

The dream of state leaders to add 250,000 college graduates to the workforce by 2020, or no later than 2025, will fade out of reach, with all the obvious consequences to those left behind as well as to the state’s economy.