On March 15, 2011, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed changes to the HOPE Scholarship into law. Lawmakers had passed the bill quickly, arguing that HOPE would run out of money in 2012 if drastic changes weren't made. While Georgia's scholarship program is still generous, most students will now be paying at least partly for college.
Most of Governor Deal's proposals made it into the final bill, but there were a few amendments.
1. GPA Requirements
Students had been eligible for HOPE if they graduated from high school with a 3.0 GPA and maintained it in college. Under the new rules, only students who graduated with a 3.7 GPA or as the valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school classes would get 100% of tuition under a new program called the Zell Miller Scholarship. They will also need a 1200 SAT Math/Reading score or a 26 on the ACT. Zell Miller scholars must maintain a 3.5 in college as well.
Students who graduate and keep a GPA from 3.0-3.69 will be eligible for 90% of their tuition (based on 2010-2011 tuition rates). If tuition rates go up, the percentage covered by HOPE will go down.
Technical college students will now have to maintain a 3.0 GPA to keep their HOPE.
Scholarship funding was previously tied to tuition increases. From now on, funding will be tied to lottery revenue.
3. Payments to Retailers and Lottery Employees
Lottery retailers will get a 6% commission, down from 7%. Georgia Lottery employees' bonuses will be limited to 1% of the net increase over the prior year's educational deposits.
4. Private College Cuts
Private Georgia college students with the highest GPAs will receive $4,000, while lower-GPA students will get $3,600.
5. Remedial Classes
Remedial classes will only be eligible for HOPE at Georgia technical colleges rather than all schools as they had been.
6. Books and Fees
Mandatory fees and textbooks will no longer be covered.
7. Regaining HOPE
In the past, there was no limit to how many times a student can regain the HOPE scholarship after losing it due to low GPA. Under the new program, students can only regain the scholarship once.
8. Other Details
Current college students will have to earn HOPE under the new guidelines; they will not be grandfathered in to the old program.
$10 million will be allocated to a 1% interest loan program for students who cannot maintain their 3.0 GPA. Loans could be forgiven for time spent teaching in specific subject areas.
High schoolers will have to take challenging classes to be eligible for HOPE.