First launched in 1993 under then-Governor Zell Miller, the HOPE Scholarship is available to all Georgia residents who meet certain academic criteria, for example maintaining a 3.0 minimum grade point average while in high school.
Today, HOPE consists of a series of tiered programs including the HOPE Grant, designed for students seeking a technical certification or diploma, and the Zell Miller Scholarship, aimed at highly successful secondary education students who have maintained a 3.7 GPA.
However, since 1998 tuition has surged more than 300 percent nationwide, though inflation has increased only 85 percent, leaving state lawmakers scrambling to keep HOPE adequately funded.
Its lottery, the only form of legal gambling currently in Georgia, has funded $8 billion in HOPE programs to more than 1.6 million deserving recipients since the program’s inception. But the lottery simply can’t maintain the escalating tuition increases.
“Because of the success and demand for the program, it is important to look at ways to keep it financially solvent for years to come,”
Beach affirmed. The answer to the funding hurdle is through legalizing gambling, at least according to proponents.
“The tourism destination casino has been way overdue to get tourists into Georgia and their dollars into Georgia to fund higher education,” Economic Development Committee Chair and State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-District 164) said.