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.