Dec 13, 2010

 
 
Georgia students and their families can expect to spend more of their own money on college now that lawmakers and Gov.-elect Nathan Deal have put dramatic changes to the HOPE scholarship on the table.

Suggestions include decreasing the scholarship's amount, raising the minimum grade-point average from a 3.0 to a 3.2 and eliminating remedial classes from what's covered, said Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, chairman of the House Higher Education Committee.

Deal said last week that the intent is to "salvage the program." Walker expects to have formal recommendations by Jan. 1.

"HOPE will continue for our deserving students, but it just won't be the same HOPE they've seen before," Walker said. "But it is not reasonable for us to expect the scholarship to cover 100 percent of tuition anymore."

The merit-based program has helped more than 1.4 million Georgians attend college since 1993, but lawmakers say the state lottery can no longer keep up with rising student enrollment and tuition costs.

Students are afraid any changes will make it difficult for them to afford college. The award currently covers tuition and provides some money for books and fees.

Joshua Delaney, president of the student body at the University of Georgia, said the scholarship is what kept him in-state for college.

"They may be pricing us out of college," Delaney said. "The state made a decision years ago to start this program, and they need to honor that commitment. Why not look for other ways to pay for this? They need to be creative and not just make cuts."

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