Preserve Hope Scholarships | Georgia Scholarships



The Funding Gap is Real

The Funding Gap is Real

There’s no question that the HOPE Scholarship has been a boon to Georgia. It has encouraged more Georgia students to attend college and has helped the economy by keeping the best and brightest in the state.

The HOPE Scholarship has been so popular that it is now a victim of its own success. When Zell Miller started the program in 1993, the scholarship covered 100 percent of tuition and fees and provided an allowance for books. By 2011 the program faced deficits forcing the legislature to make tough choices. Changes were made to cut tuition coverage and to stop covering fees and books.

Even with HOPE, the burden on parents is sizable just for tuition and fees. HOPE covers none of the fees and only 75 percent of the tuition. For an in-state student attending the University of Georgia full-time in 2016, tuition and fees are running $11,634. HOPE is covering $6,990. The student and family must make up $4,644 for the year.


For an in-state student attending Georgia Tech full-time in 2016, tuition and fees are running $12,212 and HOPE is covering $6,990 -- leaving a balance of $5,222 for the family. HOPE is only covering 71 percent of tuition at Tech.


Even the Zell Miller Scholars (3.7 GPA or higher) at the state’s leading research universities are not getting full coverage. Their families must find a way to cover fees, books and board.


The funding gap is real. Projections show the HOPE Scholarship dedicated to 3.0 students will be running a deficit by 2028. We must make it a priority now to find solutions to close the gap so the HOPE Scholarship will continue to benefit all Georgians.



Georgia Student Debt on the Rise

Georgia Student Debt on the Rise

This is a summary of an article that originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Read the full article here.


Oppressive student debt is becoming the norm in Georgia, where students average $27,754 of debt by the time they graduate. Between 2004 and 2014, student debt increased 73 percent.


Nationally, student debt for the same period was not as steep. Georgia’s sharp increase could be due in part to the 2011 changes to the HOPE Scholarships that resulted in far fewer students being covered for full-tuition.


These findings were released by the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access and Success in its annual report. Georgia ranked 24th, with about 61 percent of Georgia students carrying debt.


The report cautioned that the numbers could be even greater due to underreporting of debt. The figures are based on voluntary reporting by college administrators who may not know about all the private loans students have. What’s more, schools with high debt levels don’t have to provide data at all.


Many blame the rise of student debt on increased tuition. Some of Georgia’s largest colleges have increased their tuition by as much as 9 percent. But an April tuition freeze approved by the state’s Board of Regents did not stop the colleges from raising student fees.


Finding a way to keep the HOPE Scholarships fully funded is a key part of any solution to decrease student debt in Georgia. Many other ideas have been suggested, such as increasing the number of scholarships, decreasing loan interest rates and forgiving loan debt.


Whatever the solution, it’s in the best interest of Georgia’s future to ensure affordable higher education.


Technical schools vital link to Georgia jobs

Technical schools vital link to Georgia jobs

Georgia’s four-year colleges and research universities get a lot of well-deserved attention, but when it comes to preparing students for the workplace, the state’s Technical College System is the vital link between the classroom and the workplace.


More than 20 technical colleges work closely with leaders in every community as they revamp curriculum to meet the needs of local business and industry, especially in growth industries like healthcare and movie production.


But the need persists. When a 2015 report documented that 113 of Georgia’s 159 counties faced a shortage of primary care professionals, the technical colleges responded quickly and effectively. There are currently 13 nursing programs around the system.


It’s no coincidence that three of the six major HOPE programs focus on financial aid to technical college students.


But the “reforms” of 2011 –– which increased the technical college grade-point-average requirements to match those of four-year-degree colleges –– nearly devastated the technical college program. Enrollment dropped from 141,887 to 67,090 within four years.


At the time of the 2011 cuts, according to Rep. Stacey Evan, D-Smyrna, the average Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) student was a white, 28-year-old mother from rural Georgia, coming from a household income of roughly $20,000 to $40,000 a year. When these students had to pay the higher out-of-pocket expenses, they had to leave the system.


Those students represent “a large chuck of our potential working economy,” Evans said. “Without them in our technical colleges we are seeing the growth of a skills gap between available jobs and those qualified to fill them.”


Since the 2011 reforms, the GPA requirement has been readjusted to qualify more participants for the scholarship and grant programs for the technical colleges and the Strategic Industries Workforce Development grants.


The popularity of the scholarship and grants for the technical colleges demonstrates a need in the marketplace for practical education that leads to employment. But history has also revealed how close to the financial margin these students are. Any demise in HOPE support has and will continue to have an immediate effect on students’ ability to go to technical colleges. This is a risk the Georgia economy cannot afford.

Financial Worries Keep Students From College Education

Financial Worries Keep Students From College Education

Each year, 20,000 to 30,000 Georgia college students are forced to leave their education behind because of unpaid tuition bills, according to the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. The amounts owed are small, often less than $1,000


Georgia’s economic future depends on having a skilled workforce that is prepared to fill the jobs that are in-demand. Within the next four years, it is estimated that 60 percent of the jobs in Georgia will require a certificate, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree.  But currently, only 46 percent of the workforce has these qualifications.


Local community and business leaders are taking notice of this gap in the workforce and want to take action. The Metro Atlanta Chamber recently met to discuss these issues at the “Forum on the Future: Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline, College Affordability and the Impact of Needs-Based Financial Aid.” It concluded that Georgia must provide students with access to affordable in-demand education and training to keep our state’s economic engine running.


Financial worries are the biggest hurdle that keeps students from earning their degree or certification. In 1993, the HOPE Scholarship was created and has helped 1.7 million students go to college. But because of HOPE’s success, demand is now outpacing funding and the HOPE Scholarship is facing a funding gap. Reforms were made in 2011 to keep the program afloat. Now students with a 3.0 grade point average will only receive 71 to 88 percent of tuition costs instead of the original 100 percent. And that doesn’t include fees, housing and the cost of books.


Students have the drive to earn a degree or certification. Businesses across the state need a skilled workforce. The bottom line is clear: Postsecondary programs must be made affordable so all Georgians can prosper. Preserving the HOPE Scholarship program with its huge impact on higher education in Georgia must be a priority for all of us.


HOPE Scholarship could run into the red by 2028

HOPE Scholarship could run into the red by 2028

By Terry Lewis

Albany Herald


ALBANY — For the past 22 years, Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship has been envied nationwide and promoted as a shining jewel of the state’s educational system. More than 1.7 million Georgia students have received more than $8 billion in tuition assistance from the program, providing college opportunities to those who otherwise may have never obtained a college degree. But in many respects, former Gov. Zell Miller’s baby has been a victim of its own success.


According to a recent report from the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships, expansion of programs and overwhelming public demand are straining the system despite, growing contributions from the Georgia Lottery.


The report states, “If recent trends continue, the funds available for the HOPE Scholarship for 3.0 GPA students — the very students HOPE was created for more than 20 years ago — will be out of money by 2028.”


Among the report’s key findings:

• HOPE suffered an 89 percent drop in full-tuition scholarships after 2011 reforms, forcing thousands of students out of the program.

• For the 2016 school year, HOPE will cover only 71 to 88 percent of tuition costs, depending on the college or university.

• About 62 percent of Georgia’s college students have loans, and average student debt is about $26,518.

• Technical colleges were hit especially hard. Throughout the Technical College System of Georgia, the number of HOPE Grants is down 69 percent from the number awarded before 2011 reforms.


“This analysis confirms suspicions that Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship is in serious jeopardy,”

said Chip Lake, president of the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships.


“Despite a tidal wave of cash from the Georgia Lottery, demand for tuition assistance among Georgia families is overtaking the ability to fund the scholarships as intended.”

The report asserts in 2018, funds for the general HOPE Scholarships will start to decline. By 2022, funds for full-tuition Zell Miller Scholarships will exceed HOPE. And by 2028, HOPE could be in the red, despite an expanding lottery.


The report notes that last month the lottery pumped a record $1 billion into the HOPE fund, but even if the lottery continues the anticipated 2.5 percent growth it has seen over the past five years, it won’t be enough, at least not for the thousands of average students for whom the HOPE Scholarship was originally intended.

“In 2018, the HOPE funds designated for those students will start going down,” the report contends. “By as early as 2028, those funds will be gone.”


In the beginning, HOPE had 42,000 scholarship applications. By the second year, HOPE awards doubled as the lottery money poured in. By 2010, HOPE was supporting tuition for a quarter of a million students.


But as the money flowed in, benefits, programs and costs also increased — including funding of the state’s Pre-K programs and allowances for student fees and books. By 2011, HOPE was looking at a deficit, and the fees and books benefit was eliminated.

The report said, “By 2011, it was clear that the dream of full college tuition for everyone was in trouble. There were 238,489 students on HOPE. The costs were $679 million, or $2,847.09 per student. When a deficit of $243 million was forecast for that year, newly elected Gov. Nathan Deal warned of tough choices ahead.


“HOPE, which had largely taken on ‘birthright’ status in Georgia, could no longer be promised to future generations of students,”

the committee's report said.


Academic standards for obtaining and keeping HOPE were raised, forcing many out of the program. The number receiving full-time scholarships to colleges and universities fell 89 percent from 102,311 in 2010-11 to 10,809 the next year, when most of the reforms went into place, the report said.


In addition, HOPE awards would no longer rise automatically to cover tuition increases.

“For the 2016 school year, HOPE will cover 71 to 88 percent of tuition costs, depending on the college or university. Georgia Tech students on HOPE receive the smallest amount of help — 71 percent of their semester’s $4,906 tuition bill, or about $1,422 shy of the full costs,” report author Nancy Badertscher wrote.


“The decline would have been even more severe if the lottery hadn’t just had a banner year and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia hadn’t made the decision to leave tuition rates the same as 2015-16.”

This fall, HOPE will cover about 82 percent of tuition each semester for full-time, in-state students at Georgia State University, leaving the students and their families to find ways to make up about $784 a semester to cover tuition. At UGA, HOPE pays about 75 percent of tuition, leaving HOPE scholars with a tuition bill of $1,187.


With in-state tuition costs pushing 7.5 percent per year (soaring well above the nation’s current inflation rate of 0.8 percent) and lottery revenues projected to rise just 2.5 percent annually, it is clear that eventually the program will hit a wall and begin operating in the red. That year is projected to be 2028.


The Herald had an interview scheduled with Albany State University Financial Aid Director Stephanie Lawrence set for early Tuesday afternoon, but that meeting was canceled.


HOPE Scholarship could be out of money for this year’s kindergartners

HOPE Scholarship could be out of money for this year’s kindergartners

WSAV (Savannah)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia’s newest crop of kindergarteners could be out of luck when the hope scholarship runs out of money, according to a new report out Wednesday.


The report says demand for the hope scholarship and the rising cost of tuition is far out pacing funding.


The scholarship was created in 1993 as part of the then-new Georgia Lottery. It allowed Georgia high school students with a 3.0 average to get full in-state tuition. College enrollment soared and lawmakers made tough cuts, changing the HOPE Scholarship to only cover a portion of tuition for students with a 3.0 GPA and eliminating the payment of fees and books. Now only students qualifying for the Zell Miller Scholarship, which requires a 3.7 GPA or higher, get full tuition.


But, the report says, demand is still much higher than lotto sales can support.


“At UGA & Georgia Tech this fall 98% of the incoming freshman will be on the HOPE Scholarship or the Zell Miller Scholarship,” says author and long-time journalist Nancy Badertscher. “That’s a costly proposition, clearly.”


Badertscher says with the current funding system the HOPE Scholarship will be in deficit spending in just over a decade


“If nothing changes in the way funding is, then by 2028 the HOPE Scholarship, that’s the program for the 3.0 student, the one that Zell Miller had a dream for, that program will be into deficit spending,” says Badertscher.


New Report Shows HOPE Scholarship Could Run Out Of Money In 12 Years

New Report Shows HOPE Scholarship Could Run Out Of Money In 12 Years



MACON, Ga. -- A report released Wednesday by the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships says that the HOPE scholarship program could run out of money by the year 2028. The HOPE scholarship provides students with a 3.0 GPA in Georgia to get the majority of their tuition paid for.


The author of the report, Nancy Badertsher, says they ran a scenario looking at the current funding levels and the current projections of growth on the program." She says rising education higher education prices and the increase of students taking advantage of the program will contribute to the coming deficit.


There are many students that take advantage of the program in Middle Georgia. The committee reports that more than 44,000 students have received the HOPE scholarship in 2014 in Bibb County alone. Badertsher also adds that 44% of the incoming Freshman class at Middle Georgia State University are HOPE scholarship recipients.


In our interview today Badertsher said “This raises the issue that we should keep our eye on the ball and make sure this program can be preserved and do whatever is necessary for that.”


She said in the report she didn't explore solutions to the potential funding gap for the HOPE scholarship. But she added that the solution will take many different groups of people working together. “I think the discussion needs to involve the General Assembly which is tasked with overseeing the HOPE scholarship, the governor, but I think all Georgians are stakeholders in this and should be part of the discussion, because again, no program has done more to help the state.” she said.


The program was started in 1993. Since then the Committee reports that 1.7 million students in Georgia have benefited from the scholarship.


Hope Scholarship: A Victim of Its Own Success

Hope Scholarship: A Victim of Its Own Success
Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship: A victim of its own success?

About this analysis


Since its creation in 1993, the HOPE Scholarship has taken on the status of a birthright for Georgia students who want to go to college. More than 1.7 million of them have received substantial tuition assistance worth more than $8 billion. It’s no wonder that Georgians love HOPE and the opportunities it offers to families throughout the state.


Despite the abundance of cash from the Georgia Lottery, the public demand threatens to overwhelm available funding. The Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships wanted to determine if that could actually happen.


To help uncover and analyze the facts, the Committee hired award-winning journalist Nancy Badertscher to study HOPE from its beginning. Nancy covered politics, government and education for more than 30 years at Georgia newspapers, including the last 16 years at The Atlanta Journal- Constitution. She has won more than a dozen state and national writing awards and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.


For months, Nancy searched through scores of documents and interviewed numerous experts, parents and students on all aspects of HOPE. Her mission was to help assess the financial future of HOPE. In simple terms, can it last?


“As a journalist, I’m naturally curious — and skeptical,” said Nancy. “I approached this assignment as I would any investigative piece of journalism: Drill down into the facts, and then let them speak for themselves.” 

Chip Lake
Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships