No HOPE for needy

Georgia’s HOPE scholarship has become the political equivalent of a poundcake recipe handed down from your dear, departed Grannie: You dare not change a single ingredient, and if you get caught trying to sneak a bite off somebody else’s plate, you better expect a hand slap.

Ask state Sen. Jack Hill. His hand is probably smarting right now after he introduced a bill that would tap HOPE to assist low-income college students.

Hill, a Reidsville Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, envisions small grants of $600 or $700 that he says could make the difference between a student staying in college or dropping out. The grants would be awarded only when there are sufficient revenues from the lottery to also fund standard HOPE scholarships and pre-k.

As a student, Hill admits, he wasn’t a top scholar and would have lost HOPE, which requires a B average in high school to qualify. To keep the scholarship in college, students have to maintain that B average.

Hill knows opponents will argue that students should just work hard to earn and keep merit-based HOPE. “It is no sin not to have a B average,” he responds. “It doesn’t mean you aren’t working hard.”

Under Hill’s legislation, the HOPE need grants would depend solely on family income, which isn’t a factor in the 17-year-old HOPE program. (Speaking of recipes, the original HOPE once had a family-income cap, but it was lifted.)

HOPE need recipients would be identified through Pell Grants, the federal aid program for the poorest students, most of whom come from families earning less than $30,000 a year in Georgia, says Hill.

Last week, the Senate Higher Education committee approved Hill’s Senate Bill 496, the HOPE College Opportunity Grant.
Georgia University System Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. endorses the legislation, saying, “It’s the right thing to do for Georgia students.”

“High-school freshmen generally make decisions based on tomorrow — or next weekend if they are more farsighted,” says Davis. “So if you don’t wake up to what it takes to earn HOPE until your junior year, it’s too late.

“There are many late-bloomer students who can be very successful in college, but didn’t make the right decisions early enough to qualify for HOPE. And with no large-scale, need-based aid programs, they are out of luck financially in this state,” says Davis.

Not everyone agrees. UGA President Michael Adams says he opposes need-based HOPE because it would undercut public support of the program. On my Get Schooled blog on, only five of 150 posters supported the idea.

“We’re already throwing away money on pseudo-students using their worthless high school inflated grades to waste space in college classrooms,” one poster argued. “Now some half-wit proposes that we throw away even more.”

Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a national organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap,  doesn’t understand the hostility to helping low-income students.

More than 90 percent of the spending on the HOPE scholarship goes to students who would have attended college even without the aid, according to the research on the program.

In a 2006 federal study, 54 percent of Georgia students with documented financial need did not receive enough aid to meet that need, falling short by an average of $5,400.

It’s not that those students aren’t trying; four out of five undergraduates worked while attending school, including 37 percent who put in 35 or more hours per week, according to the study.

While other states give their neediest students top priority in distributing college financial aid, Georgia clings to a need-blind approach, says Haycock.

“In Georgia, if you are working hard and get into college, the state will support you even if you don’t need the aid,” she says. “How that becomes a bigger priority than providing help to the kids who absolutely can’t stay in college without support is bizarre, just bizarre.”

Nor does Haycock understand the attitude that low-income students who fail to meet the academic bar for HOPE are undeserving of any other financial help and that a $600 grant constitutes a form of welfare.

“I came from a small-town high school with weak standards and had a 2.65 average my first year at college,” she says.

“By Georgia standards, I would have lost my scholarship and gone home, but I stayed in school and went on to win the top award that my university gave.”

It’s absurd, Haycock says, to assume students who slip below a 3.0 are lazy or stupid, noting that it’s difficult to keep a high average in engineering and science.

“The universities don’t throw you out if you get less than that,” she says. “You are still in good academic standing.”

“I just don’t understand,” she says, “why people in Georgia believe that you are unworthy of any state support if you have less than a 3.0.”

29 comments Add your comment

Keep your hands OFF HOPE!

March 22nd, 2010
11:04 am

The state and all of you bleeding hearts need to keep your hands off the HOPE scholarship. There are plenty of programs available to the “less fortunate”, lots more than the middle class can access.

The low socioeconomic group has full access to Pell grants and various supplemental grants. The high income families self-fund college. The really smart kids get the academic scholarships. The Hope grant is aimed at the MIDDLE CLASS. You know, the sector of the population that doesn’t get much of anything set aside for them.
BTW, as the child of a broken family with not much income, I went to college on Pell grants and my own money from working. When I didn’t have enough money from those 2 sources to pay for college, I got a LOAN.

Suze Berry

March 22nd, 2010
11:12 am

Instead of being less restrictive, I think it needs to be MORE restrictive. Someone on another blog suggested limiting HOPE to second years students at the earliest. Let the students prove they’re going to stay in school first, then help them out. While I applaud students who want to continue their education, I just don’t feel that it’s the government’s place to pay for it. You want to go to college, fine. Get a job and pay for it. I, and many in my generation, worked 30-40 hours a week and went to school. It didn’t kill us. To the contrary, it probably made us more dedicated students.

V for Vendetta

March 22nd, 2010
11:36 am

Kati Haycock’s remarks baffle me and are indicative of the type of thinking now rampant in this once great country of ours:

“‘I just don’t understand,’ she says, ‘why people in Georgia believe that you are unworthy of any state support if you have less than a 3.0.’”

When did “state support” become an expected right? When did graduating from college without student loan debt become a right? When did getting something YOU DIDN’T EARN become a right?

When I was in college, I lost the HOPE scholarship. Tough luck. I had to deal with it and move on. The reason was simple: I understood the value of college and education. I can’t believe the limitless gall of these people who have the nerve to suggest that the free handout they’re getting is not enough–or does not encompass enough people. If the HOPE scholarship was vital to one’s attendance of college, you would think that one would do ANYTHING in his or her power to ensure that his or her grades met the standards. It’s called personal accountability.

My mother was raised in a low income home by alcoholic parents. They provided her and her sister with nothing, and they had no money to pay for college when the time came. Instead of making excuses, my mother and my aunt each worked multiple jobs and put themselves through Florida State. Though they had to share clothes, meals, and count every penny they had, they both graduated from college. One became a biochemist at the CDC, the other a teacher of Gifted students.

Enough with the excuses. Work for what you want. It shouldn’t be given to you. If you agree with me, stand up and say something. The government WORKS FOR US, not the other way around.

the prof

March 22nd, 2010
11:37 am

Uhhh…..someone who would have lost HOPE is leading our state? Brings to mind the old joke, what do you call a law student who graduates with a 2.0 GPA (roughly)……….President Bush……

Amber from the A

March 22nd, 2010
11:52 am

This is a catch 22 situation b/c the low income students (not all) are the ones who are struggling in school prior to college, so if they were not already preped to manage school initially, it will be even harder for them to do so, independently, while in college. They (not all students) are bound to do worst in college simply b/c they don’t have that support like they had in grade school. On one hand-keep HOPE as is, on the other hand-help the needy, but require stipulations as well.


March 22nd, 2010
11:58 am

I agree with the one who said that HOPE benefits a group of students who often have nothing else set aside for them –the middle class. There are plenty of resources available for the needy to go to school. And it is not a right– My sister and worked our way through college. It can be done if you want it badly enough. Leave HOPE alone.


March 22nd, 2010
12:07 pm

You should only get Hope until 30 hours and have a 3.0 in college. Alot of students are losing Hope in the first year of college.Millions of dollars are lost because the student did not keep up his grades. Look at the numbers that Hope has published showing this. I belive it is around 50% for the first year.

DeKalb Conservative

March 22nd, 2010
12:11 pm

If you don’t have a 3.0 GPA, why would you be a good investment?


March 22nd, 2010
12:18 pm

Ms. Downey, were you aware that there was originally a NEGATIVE income cap? That if you were too poor, and qualified for Pell, you could not get HOPE?

Unfortunately, after the advent of HOPE, the state ceased participating in the SSIG program, where a small amount of state aid was matched by a larger amount of federal aid targeted to the most needy.

Vendetta, when did your family matriculate at FSU? My mom and her 4 sisters all graduated from there with one or more degrees. My aunt got bachelors and masters in parasitology and went to CDC, as well. (I imagine this was earlier than your family was there–the 40s and 50s.)

V for Vendetta

March 22nd, 2010
12:30 pm


You’re right; it was a bit earlier, but not too far off. My mom and aunt were there in the late 60s.

UGA class of '03

March 22nd, 2010
12:34 pm

I came from your typically middle class family. I got HOPE for my freshman year in college and lost it half way through my sophomore year. I was a biology major and not prepared for the amount of work required by college level classes after coasting through public high school with a 3.89 GPA. By the time I changed my major to History and started bringing my grades up I didn’t have enough time left to get HOPE back so I had to add to my already large student loans to cover the costs. The whole system is being stretched thin by the amount of kids being awarded the scholarship. Unless you’re living at home and commuting to school the HOPE won’t even come close to paying for everything. So while I understand wanting to help kids who might not have the means at their disposal, $500-$600 is not going to get them very far at all. If they want to give kids more money then they need to up the book allowance. $150 a semester is just laughable. I had one book that almost cost that much!

Joy in Teaching

March 22nd, 2010
12:46 pm

I came from the lower class. Between the two of them, my parents worked at least 4 jobs at any one time to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. They stressed the importance of education so that I wouldn’t have to struggle as much as they did. I qualified for the Pell grant and worked at least 30 hours a week in order to make it through college on the 5 year plan. And that was with living at home and commuting.

It can be done. It didn’t hurt me and it made me appreciate my education so much more. These HOPE entitlement kids need to just suck it up and get over their entitled selves.

Proud Black Man

March 22nd, 2010
12:54 pm

Once again I hope and pray that my hard working bruthas and sistahs will quit playing the lotto and subsidizing the white right spawn education!


March 22nd, 2010
12:55 pm

I get a little tired of people blaming their high school for not preparing them for college. I went to college…many moons ago….and almost flunked out my first quarter. Why? Because I didn’t really work all that hard. It wasn’t due to any lack of preparation or lack of effort on my high school teachers’ part. It was all MY fault. Yes, my professors were more demanding and the work load was heavier but DUH…it was college and not high school. After that first quarter, I grew up a little bit, worked harder and ended up making the Dean’s & President’s list several times before graduation.

If you want it bad enough….you’ll figure out a way. I qualified for Pell grants, work grants, etc. My parents were not able to contribute a penny to my college education. I bought used books, brought my own lunch, and took extra classes each quarter because after a certain amount of hours, the tuition cost was the same. The harder you have to work for something, the more you appreciate its worth.

DeKalb Conservative

March 22nd, 2010
12:56 pm

3.0+ = HOPE
< 3.0 = DOPE


March 22nd, 2010
1:17 pm

@Proud Black Man

I agree. I also hope your hard working bruthas and sistahs will have their children earn high enough grades to subsidize their own educations. Their parents can’t possibly be spending $10k+ per year on lotto tickets. So if their kids earn the HOPE the family comes out ahead.


March 22nd, 2010
1:18 pm

Not everyone is college material. Somebody has to be a plumber.

The hardest I have ever had to work in my life was in college. I kept HOPE all four years and graduate with honors in my major in final semester. HOPE teaches you to work for what you want.

It’s the “Y” generation that began believing that they are entitled to everything just because they exist…….That kind of arrogance astounds me.

I take great pride when reality kicks these people in the face. You want something….WORK for it.


March 22nd, 2010
1:25 pm

The HOPE scholarship is designed to distinguish between the people that are willing to go the extra mile and the lazy freeloader, regardless of income level.

Who in their right mind wants to hire the person that only does the bare minimum to get by?

Hope help

March 22nd, 2010
1:33 pm

Students recieve pell grants and or student loans for them long enough to become classified as a junior in college and Hope could kick in cover prior admissions and then continue to fund the student for another 5 or possibly 6 semesters. Tech schools could be handled the same way depending on the half way point of the program. A “C” from GT may be a bit different than an “A” at Brown.

Self Reliant Female

March 22nd, 2010
3:04 pm

I graduated from college right before HOPE went into effect. I received academic and other merit-based scholarships to help pay for school. The rest of the money was earned by me with some additional support from my mom, who was a single parent at the time. When I attended graduate school some fifteen years later, I discovered that academic achievement and GRE scores no longer mattered…it was all about which box other than white I could check on the application since diversity is what matters now – not ability or grades. Wonder what sort of response I’d receive if I approached the planned giving office at my alma mater with scholarship monies along with the stipulation that they be merit-based only and open equally to all applicants no set asides for need or ethnic background. There’s enough money out there for lower income and minority students, but very little for high achievers who deserve a reward for their efforts over the years.


March 22nd, 2010
3:15 pm

High school is unable to prepare studetns for college because we have to teach the test. We can’t give the amount of work students need because parents will complain about “too much homework”. We can’t give the grades students deserve for careless and sloppy work ( remember the “heart and sole” blog last week?) because too many would fail and failure is not allowed to be over a certain percentage of your students if you wish to keep your job. We cannot properly prepare them for college any more than we can in middle school for high school because we are not allowed to have deadlines or zeroes for those who do not wish to do the work.And the kids know it!

Then they get to college and write a complaint like the “heart and sole” person did and once again the schools get slammed for not doing their job. If you want higher standards, then teachers have to be free to give students what they deserve without worrying about the number F’s and having to give them endless chances to turn in work. They have to be free to give failing grades for failing work. We have to be backed up by administrators.And we are NOT free to do that if we wish to stay employed.

the prof

March 22nd, 2010
4:48 pm

Absolutely correct Elizabeth! Fortunately, those rules don’t apply when they get to college.


March 22nd, 2010
5:01 pm

This topic is far mor complex then you all are willing to admit. Hope is not hard to get because if a student doesn’t earn a B in a core class on his own accord, that parent will be so far up that teacher’s then the Dept chair’s then the Principal’s rump roast that the teacher becomes forced to spend an absurd amount of time explaining to all of those people that the student actually doesn’t do his work or adequetly prepare for class, only to be told that he has to bend over backwards to coddle Scooter into doing some work. Tough and talented teachers (the ones the public say don’t exist) can’t exist is this age of the entitled kid with parents who blame everyone but themeselves or their kids. YOu want to fix hope and have money go to the right people, let’s demand some truth in grading and let kids actually get the grades they earn. Let’s defend the teacher who gives a kid an F on a test because he didn’t take notes, study or participate or who gives a kid a 0 on a research paper because the kid bought one off of the internet. NO we don’t do that. The teacher gets called on the carpet and told he didn’t properly teach the student–depsite the proof he provides of using “best practices” and well-crafted lessons–and has to waste more time he doesn’t have to coddle Scooter, so he can get HOPE. You want these kids to work their way through college? Good luck.

Ole Guy

March 22nd, 2010
5:15 pm

I have often observed that my academic honors, both in high school and college, were neither magna or summa cum laude, but rather “GET DOWN ON MY HANDS AND KNEES and THANK THE LAUDE…AND GET THE HELL OUTA THERE ‘FORE THEY CHANGE THEIR MINDS! In reality, I, like many reasonably successful people on this blue bb in space, came from somewhat modest means. The big difference between me and the other less-than-stellar academic achievers, and those who, for one reason or another, failed to achieve their academic objectives, is RESULTS…we graduated!

We, the people of this state, have witnessed yet another pie-in-the-sky mandate from legislator land. How much money has been wasted on students who, armed with inflated high school grades, entered the world of academe only to receive real grades, not at all reflective of their hs “achievements”, and consequently lost HOPE funding? This unnecessarily restrictive 3.0 requirement has probable resulted in more wasted resources than not.

Senator Hill, by his suggestion, appears to be among the few legislators who possess any real world insight. Why, after all, should a family of ample means receive financial assistance when so many kids, whose families may not have the resources, may never see the front door of a college? This is yet another example of a legislative body which has absolutely no concept of the real world, nor of real people.


March 22nd, 2010
8:05 pm

“No HOPE for needy” – not true. The “needy can get HOPE if they earn and maintain a 3.0 average, just like everyone else.


March 22nd, 2010
10:46 pm

“No HOPE for needy” – not true. The “needy can get HOPE if they earn and maintain a 3.0 average, just like everyone else’

This comment by AlreadySheared needed to be repeated in case anyone missed it. Can I get another Amen?


March 22nd, 2010
10:53 pm

There are plenty of programs and funding available for low-income students, regardless of grades–Pell grants, need-based scholarships funded by universities and private groups, etc. HOPE is based on academic qualifications. Two different issues–apples and oranges.

Freshmen are warned at the beginning of the year, from teachers, counselors, administrators, etc., that freshman year grades count. The fact that some freshmen lack the maturity to think ahead means that, yes, they are probably a poor investment, or not as good of an investment as the student who HAS been working hard and studying for four years. I have had a number of freshmen laugh in my face about their grades… but in the next desk, the smart student is learning.

Some upperclassmen scoff at the idea that college professors sometimes won’t accept late papers, almost never give study guides or printed notes, expect students to already know MLA or APA format, etc. Other are feverishly trying to figure out how to format their research papers and turn them in on time.

Who do YOU want to give money to?

[...] reference to my blog entry on students losing HOPE, especially students in tough majors, someone sent me a note about the scholarship that Ken [...]

[...] reference to my blog entry on students losing HOPE, especially students in tough majors, someone sent me a note about the scholarship that Ken [...]