HOPE is diminishing. Parents told that scholarship money for books and fees likely to disappear due to shortfall

Books and fees are likely to be cut from the HOPE Scholarship as lottery proceeds fall short of the increased costs of the popular program.

Books and fees are likely to be cut from the HOPE Scholarship as lottery proceeds fall short of the increased costs of the popular program.

I am glad to see some frank comments about the pressures on the HOPE Scholarship from a lawmaker.  I went to the recent hearing on HOPE that state Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, convened and where he warned that HOPE was in trouble.  He is bringing the same cautionary tale to the public.

At the hearing, Walker and other lawmakers predicted hard choices this year on HOPE, which is funded by the lottery. The lottery proceeds cannot keep up with the demands from HOPE Scholarships awarded to college students, HOPE grants given to technical school students and pre-k offered to the state’s 4-year-olds.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

LOGANVILLE — The HOPE Scholarship might not be able to provide any money for textbooks or fees for next year’s college freshmen, state Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, told the Grayson High School PTSA on Thursday evening.

Georgia lottery revenues, which fund the HOPE Scholarship and the Georgia Pre-K programs, have been steadily climbing, but they aren’t growing fast enough, Walker said.

“The Georgia lottery is one of the best run lotteries in all the world. In my opinion, the lottery commission has done a commendable job,” Walker said. “The revenues have inched up … but the lottery revenues are not growing at a pace to keep up with the expenditures.”

Last year, the lottery revenues were about $881 million. The expenditures, however, totaled more than $1 billion. The state had to use a chunk of the lottery’s unrestricted reserves to make up the difference, Walker said.

Projections show the lottery revenues will stay relatively stagnant, while lottery expenditures will climb to more than $1.2 billion by fiscal year 2012, which begins in less than a year. That will deplete the unrestricted reserve, and the lottery’s other two reserves will drop to about $370 million — less than half of where they were at the beginning of this fiscal year.

Walker, the chairman of the House higher education committee, said he finds this alarming, but he assured parents the HOPE Scholarship isn’t going anywhere.

“It’s not going away,” Walker said, “… but some adjustments are going to have to be made. … This is an issue that has to be answered right now.”

Legislators will be examining a number of options when the General Assembly convenes in January, Walker said. Trigger mechanisms for benefit reductions in case of declining fund availability may have to be accelerated.

Currently, the HOPE Scholarship provides for the cost of tuition at a public college or university, pays for mandatory fees (capped at the January 2004 level) and gives students $150 per semester for books. It’s possible the book award and fee payments may be eliminated.

The program may also be amended so that people who have a bachelor’s degree cannot receive the HOPE Grant if they enroll in a technical college.

Loganville resident Leigh Ann Brandenburg, whose son is a senior at Grayson High, said the information is upsetting.

“He’s worked hard for (the past) three years, and I’d just hate for him to be penalized,” she said. “I think we can swing the room and board if his classes are paid for, but the economy has affected everyone. I don’t want him penalized for doing the right thing.”

66 comments Add your comment


August 30th, 2010
8:53 am

HOPE Scholarship and Grant need to be changed to a forgivable loan program. How many students lose it after the first year because they didn’t really deserve it in the first place? If you really want it and need it, you’ll be willing to work hard for your grades so you don’t have to pay it back.

V for Vendetta

August 30th, 2010
8:55 am

I’m tired of hearing about this. Raise the GPA requirements to 3.5 and be done with it. 3.0 is a joke.

It’s not hard to figure out. You don’t have the right to go to college for free, but, apparently, many people disagree. Be happy that a system exists at all. But I fear for this nation’s future when there are pictures like the one on the homepage of ajc.com. A man is holding a sign that says “Housing is a human right.”


You have the right to live and to do whatever it take to work towards the goal of owning a home, BUT YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO A HOME. Like most other things in this world, it must be earned. That same attitude it what is wrong with the HOPE scholarship and why it is slowly drying up.


August 30th, 2010
8:55 am

Gee, it’s great having your kids just entering college and, viola, sorry, the best part about the Georgia educational system is being cut left and right. Maybe the legislators can cut some of the pork that has been heaped on over the last 5 or so years. Hope the Hope is still there when the second one comes along in 2015.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
9:07 am

bound to happen. amazed it hadn’t hapened sooner.
grade inflation, systems promoting the percent of kids “qualifing”
for HOPE, the skyrocketing costs of higher education…

like any other elected body, the Ga legislature saw this coming for years yet choose to kick it down the road to somebody else.

how much money gets spent on athletics again?
on ADA students who will almost certainly never be able to apply the
education they demanded?
on building places to the egos of Presidents like the GPC Atlanta
Center or the moble health van?

clearly we have money – we just don’t care to be responsible with it

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
9:09 am

how about this for motivation: anyone recieving HOPE who loses it due to bad grades in the first semester being required to pay it back.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
9:14 am

I’ve always favored HOPE recipients be required to complete their first year of education at a two year or tech school. these guys are much more cost effective – dollar goes farther and have less distractions (ie: greek life, football teams, dorms in most cases) giving kids a better chance of actually making use of their opportunity


August 30th, 2010
9:17 am

my parents saved for both my college education and my brothers college education. they didnt even have to use mine as i went into the military and used the gi bill as well as worked my way through to finish and have an off campus apartment.
the problem with “free” programs is that when you have to make adjustments, something that we never had before, is now someones right to something.. go figure..


August 30th, 2010
9:49 am

Maybe we should give the lottery bigwigs even larger bonuses!


August 30th, 2010
9:52 am


This is a very interesting link to an editorial. Very very intersting….off topic for this but gives some interesting facts.

God Bless the Teacher!

August 30th, 2010
10:11 am

TechMom – AMEN! Until the policy makers (at whatever level) listen to suggestions like this, no positive change will ever occur with HOPE. Instead of just being forgiveable, convert HOPE money received into a low interest student loan. That way HOPE will make some money to built reserves.

HS Teacher, Too

August 30th, 2010
10:30 am

@TechMom and God Bless the Teacher!

Oh please. You are asking the impossible. And that is for politicans in GA in charge (republicans) to do the reasonable and logical thing with respect to education.

HOPE cannot be everything to everyone. The scope of it needs to narrow in addition to it being a ‘forgiveable loan.’

More Republican BS

August 30th, 2010
10:31 am

If the Legislature had the balls to put a stop to such huges bonuses to the Lottery Commission at the end of the year, it would be a brighter picture. The salary they make is far and above what most people make each year and it is pure BS that they will leave if their bonuses are taken away because there is no place else they could go and make the money they make salary wise and they know they are darn lucky to even have a job. When are people going to wake up and see that the Republican party cares about no one but the affluent – two kinds of Republicans – millionaires and suckers. No the Democratic party isn’t perfect but at least they see beyond the rich and affluent. And please do me a favor about how hard you work is because you are affluent – you happened to be lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I worked my butt off, giving far more than 8 hours a day to my job, dedicated, loyal, etc. and by the way only got paid for 8 hours a day even if I worked 10.

WE lost our way

August 30th, 2010
10:33 am

I have said this several times before on this topic.The first 30 hours of college is the area where Hope loses over 250 million each year.As of 2008 over 54% lost Hope in the first 30 semester hours.Make Hope a reimbursement fund for the these hours.If the student does not have a 3.0 at the end of 30 hours,they will not get the funds.If they have a 3.0 they will continue receiving as it is currently established.I know people will state that they can not come up with the estimated 7000.00 to start the freshman year with,but if you know the rules in advance;you can save years before they are a senior in high school.Also, they will get this money back if their student has a 3.0 at the end of 30 hours.

David S

August 30th, 2010
10:58 am

The entitlements for everyone, including middle class parents, are all going away. The government is bankrupt, both financially and morally.

A free and properous america can rise from the ashes of its future demise. The only question will be whether anyone learns from the upcoming collapse or continues to believe that government can somehow allow everyone to live at the expense of everyone else.

What's best for kids?

August 30th, 2010
11:00 am

Reinbursement is the best answer.

Warrior Woman

August 30th, 2010
11:13 am

@ V and bootney – You could overcome the grade inflation that’s making more kids HOPE-eligible when graduating from high school by requiring a 3.0 and a minimum test score on ACT or SAT. That would take some of the pressure off HOPE. I would also eliminate remedial classes from HOPE eligibility, which would take more pressure off HOPE and keep out kids that aren’t ready for college. If you combine those ideas with TechMom’s forgivable loan idea, HOPE is saved.

Of course, controlling expenses at Georgia Lottery and the state colleges and universities would also go a long way towards saving HOPE.


August 30th, 2010
11:17 am

As the parent of a child who has just received a HOPE scholarship, I agree with making it a reimbursement. Asking students to get a short-term loan that can be paid off with a semester-based reimbursement system will build that student’s credit score while providing a very real kick in the pants for those tempted to slack off. Perhaps that change should only be instituted in the four year schools as they are more expensive, have more distractions and are more competitive. Students choosing to attend two year schools at lower cost to the HOPE program could be given more latitude, thus making those schools more attractive.

Bottom line, HOPE cannot provide a semester or year of fun and games before a student loses qualification and has to leave. Losing reimbursement after one semester would mean that the student would be on the hook for the $4500 tuition loan and assumably would either take their work more seriously or go home, eligibility still intact, to attend a more realistic option. Letting HOPE “scholars” play for a year only to find they have no more options at all does not give Georgia the full benefit of the funds, and is particularly wasteful when the majority of entering freshmen at Tech and UGA now lose eligibility after the first year.


August 30th, 2010
11:21 am

WE lost our way, while I understand your rationale, that gets away from the original objective of HOPE, an income based award to assist deserving, qualified students. When it became merit based along with available for 4 years, obviously more students and families took advantage of HOPE. This has resulted in the current situation where expenditures are exceeding the revenues generated.

I could go for the idea mentioned by Warrior Woman OR a sliding scale award based on family income. I would also increase the GPA minimum to 3.25 for the current 8th graders to be eligible for HOPE.


August 30th, 2010
11:23 am

Wow, meanwhile we teach foreign language in elementary school – as long as you only speak Spanish, you get to learn English, which is a foreign language. In fact, UGA “researchers” just received more than $2 million to help immigrants learn English. Your kid, born a Native English speaker, will not get foreign language ed until high school, if then. Why doesn’t anyone give a rat’s patootey about kids who are HERE? End the nation-building in Afghanistan and the free healthcare, education, and language training to Mexican nationals who are here and spend it where it came from!


August 30th, 2010
11:30 am

Why do we have to cut HOPE for college kids. What about the pre-k, its nothing more than glorified day care. How much is that costing the state each year


August 30th, 2010
11:34 am

Real leadership would solve this problem. Do we pay these politicans to state the obvious?


William Casey

August 30th, 2010
11:42 am

Making HOPE a REIMBURSEMENT program is a far better idea than converting it to a loan program. Each student pays his/her own way the first semester. If student make grades, student gets HOPE check. If student parties or is unprepared for college work, student (or parents) pay for it. Much easier than trying to collect on loans. And, don’t tell me that this would exclude “the poor.” It wouldn’t hurt a student (poor or otherwise) to work a year after high school to pay for that first semester in college. My son, who has HOPE, sure appreciates the value of a dollar more after a summer of hard physical labor. This would also go a long way toward exposing the rampaging grade inflation in high school. A 3.0 HS GPA in no way guarantees that a student is ready for real college level work.

WE lost our way

August 30th, 2010
11:58 am

@Ernest- You are right that it was created on income based and qualified by Zell Miller. However over the years the income levels were raised.Also, the SYSTEM learned how to play the game in grade inflation for students. In some school systems students are given a 3.0 in high school so they will qualify for Hope.They(adminitrators/teachers)see this as the only way the student can get a college education.Example- a 3.0 grade in Fayette or Cobb will be different than a 3.0 in APS or some rural areas of this state. That is why alot of students lose Hope the first year. The other majority reason is freshmen want to party when they go away from home.Let the good times role and not study.@ brian,I agree with you on pre-k. It is a state funded day care. If you abolished Pre-k you also do away with a state agency that employees over 100 employees.Saves money on both state funds and lottery funds.


August 30th, 2010
12:02 pm

Has anyone seen hard data about how many of those who lose HOPe actually LEAVE school? I know quite a few kids who have lost it (many of them lower class), and not a one of them left school. They or their parents took out loans, they worked, etc. I wonder how widespread that is? I am willing to bet very few actually quit school. They find other ways. And what is the percent of HOPE “scholars” who actually finish college? What GPA or SAT is a predictor of finishing? Unfortunately so little information is available to the public about the efficacy of the HOPE scholarship–the data is being sat on. Let some reputable researchers have a crack at it!

Some folks say it doesn’t matter–it’s just lottery money. But tuition (HOPE) pays only part of the expense of putting on classes. The rest of it is borne by the taxpayers. Thousands of dollars per student!

I agree with tightening the requirements (adding a minimum SAT/ACT–how about 1000 on the 1600 scale (pretty low) or an ACT of 24 of 36) to weed out the pseudo-scholars? Give them the HOPE straight up. The kids who have the gpa but not the SAT/ACT–make theirs a loan until the end of the first 2 full-time semesters, when the loan is forgiven if they have the 3.0. And so something about the kids who “ride the HOPE” and end up with–oops–24 hours at the end of 2 semesters! Remember, until you have those 30 hours your grades are not examined for continuation of HOPE.


August 30th, 2010
12:04 pm

filtered at noon


August 30th, 2010
12:08 pm

Making students pay back the HOPE scholarship will be an incentive for SOME students to work harder. This system will also encourage the following: 1) more grade grubbing by students and grade inflation by weaker faculty and departments, 2) students underenrolling in course hours (12 instead of 18, for example, then drop one) to insure they pass (costs the university money and prolongs time to graduation), 3) rise in declaration of majors that are not as rigorous or difficulty, which skews against science and math majors, of which GA needs more not fewer, 4) mushrooming concurrent enrollment at 4-year University System schools and 2-year, online, and for profit colleges to get easier hours, resulting in quality control issues for core courses that need rigorous pre-requisites and loss of revenue for 4-year schools. Being aware of the pitfalls should enable better program design.

That said, I support students paying for education, then receiving a reimbursement from HOPE if they meet standards in non-remedial classes, either once a year or once a semester. Remedial (academic enhancement, ESOL, and UNIV) courses should be the responsibility of the student and family, not the HOPE program. I don’t like the idea of giving students the money first, then trying to collect it back upon failure to meet the standard – that add lots more bureaucracy, record keeping, and frankly, had low odds of succeeding if you look at student loan default rates as an example – and those are banks and government agencies going after defaulters, not universities, who are not in the loan business.

Jefferson Jackson

August 30th, 2010
12:10 pm

If you tightrn high school grading standards you won’t have so many sham 3.0 GPAs. That is the true scandal. There are students graduating from Georgia high schools with a 3.0 who have to take remedial courses in college. Let’s track that disguting trend.

V for Vendetta

August 30th, 2010
12:24 pm

More Republican BS,

The dems want to control everything. The repubs want a theocracy. It seems to me that BOTH parties are philosophically bankrupt.

David S,

I hope so, but I fear that we are in trouble when a Glenn Beck rally draws thousands of people. Hitler started in the same way. Time will tell if our country, the one the Founding Fathers envisioned, can be saved.


August 30th, 2010
12:43 pm

An income limit is the best way to solve this problem. HOPE was originally created to help students who couldn’t necessarily afford college be able to attend.

Atlanta mom

August 30th, 2010
12:55 pm

As someone on this blog site recently recommended, make students (parents) pay for the first semester of college. If the student remains HOPE eligible, tuition is covered by HOPE, but the first semester “deposit” stays with the school. At the end of 4 years, assuming the student is still HOPE eligible, the deposit is returned to the student. He/She will then have the funds to go out and find their own place to live. A win-win for everyone.

So everyone knows, the “fees” are not insubstantial. The UGA bill this year shows $3,535 for tuition and $833 for fees—for one semester.

V for Vendetta

August 30th, 2010
1:15 pm

Enough Already,

Enough already! If you want live in communism, there are plenty of places in Europe that are practically communist. The HOPE was set up based on achievement. Even though I could agree that all schools are not created equal, largely due to socioeconomic status, I think using income as an arbiter of awards is wrong. Many of the schools in low socioeconomic areas would be far more likely to inflate grades than a school like Lassiter, Northview, or Brookwood.


August 30th, 2010
1:36 pm

My noon comment is still filtered.


August 30th, 2010
2:01 pm

V for Vendetta

August 30th, 2010
1:15 pm

You are very delusional “V for Vendetta”. The original HOPE criteria contained an income limit. I’m sure you know that, living outside of that communist world you bring up. Now, you have moved into pure fantasy.


August 30th, 2010
2:03 pm

Drop the state sponsored day care. It is killing the program. Also add a SAT/ACT score requiremnt. also drop the books and fees part of the program. This would keep the system moving forward.

Too many A's

August 30th, 2010
2:38 pm

bloodbike – Agree but would add dropping remedial classes.

Ricardo Cabeza

August 30th, 2010
2:44 pm

HOPE sher hepp me 2 git a gud ejucashun hear in Jawjuh! The ferst summester of my freshmun yeer wuz free! Alls I had to pay fer wuz da beer! Then I lossed the HOPE and moov bak home wif mommanem. Ain’t life grate??


August 30th, 2010
2:52 pm

TN does have an ACT as well as grade requirements for HOPE. Not all middle class parents can afford a lot of college money. I am a teacher, my husband a police officer. We saved, but not near enough. Our girls worked.
Colleges have really not doen enough to contain their costs. Instructors only actually teach 15 hours a week. The rest is “ofice hours”. Maybe letting full time instructors actually teach 20-30 hours a week would help with costs.


August 30th, 2010
2:53 pm

Also Pre K could be dropped.


August 30th, 2010
3:02 pm

100% for 3.75 GPA and above with $150 books
80% 3.5 to 3.74999 with $100 for books
60% 3.25 to 3.499999 with $75 for books
50% 3.00 to 3.24999 and passing SAT/ACT Scores with $75 for books
33% 2.75 to 3.00 and High level SAT/ACT Score (SAT over 800?) with $75 bk
Less than 2.75 0%

Convert to Low interest loan if you fail in first year or leave to out-of-state school
0 for remedial/non-credit classes.


August 30th, 2010
3:09 pm

I disagree with the suggestions regarding eliminating PreK. I can admit it has the impression of being a glorified daycare however we must acknowledge there are many children coming into the program from ‘unstructured’ environments. Some child need to develop skills many of us take for granted such as sitting still, following instructions, interacting with others, etc.

I’d like to see more rigor in the PreK curriculum however would defer to our teachers for guidance as to what could and shouldn’t be done. There should be base skills accomplished at the end of the year however there should not be a reasonable cap on skills taught. I know I was frustrated when the PreK teacher told me they could not teach certain things because of the established curriculum, despite the obvious mastery by the children and desire to do more.

I say this because I believe early intervention is part of the key to really making a difference with education in our state. It is important to do what we can to close the achievement gap however that does not mean we keep the bar where it currently resides. We need to keep raising the bar while closing the gap. That is the only way we can help improve the outcomes for more of our children.


August 30th, 2010
3:48 pm

While original HOPE program included an income scale, this ignores the sacrifices that middle class parents have made during all the years leading up to college – time spent helping with homework, coaching teams, making sure kids had enough rest and food, attending school conferences, volunteering with PTA. Why should families who worked so hard to get their children college-ready not receive the same benefits as those who were less fortunate or less motivated? Middle class kids are less likely to lose the scholarship than lower income kids, so if you want to base the funding on a risk-return assessment, you give the money first to the middle income kids, and only to the lower income kids if there is any left over.

Ole Guy

August 30th, 2010
4:35 pm

Fear not, little ones! There’s always V.A. educational assistance. No…WAIT ONE! That means you would have to commit yourselves to service for your Country, something which previous generations viewed as a normal part of growing up. How foolish of the Ole Guy to even contemplate such an infringement upon a generation which will forever go on blaming their problems on forces far beyond their control.

Not a single gen has had the luxury of escaping some sort of social challenge. Each and every gen has simply dove in and, in the end, persevered, if not triumped. Now, all of a sudden, the wee wittle ones have it tough…BOO FRIQIN HOO!

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:56 pm

I like the idea of tying HOPE to ACT, SAT, or some other similiar kind of achievement.

wouldn’t kill all of grade inflation, but would stop a bunch of it.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
5:00 pm

@ catlady,

that’s why I like the idea of having to repay HOPE monies lost in the first year or semester. the start up costs of college are so high it can cripple the ability of a lot of talented folks to begin.

but we have to actually collect it, not wring our hands and excuse the debts.

another comment

August 30th, 2010
5:26 pm

The low income students already qualify for Pell Grants and other Financial aid that other grants that middle class and above student don’t. If anything, the program should be made so that there is no double dipping if you are eligible for Pell Grants and other income base aid. There are many low income students who are getting checks back to them from the financial aid offices.

Another big problem are the parts of the University System that do not even require an SAT or ACT score to gain entry. That is ridiculous. How can we have 4 year universities in the State system that do not have that thresehold.

Also, we have students gaming the grading system, in High School. Some students just take the easy courses to get a higher GPA for the HOPE scholarship, since they don’t use the weighted average that the kids who take the tougher classes in Honors, AP and IB classes take. It is so easy to Have all A’s in regular classes in a Georgia class room. But it is a completely different thing earning an A in a IB or AP, class yet for the Hope 3.0 average, the good students don’t get to use their weighted averages. These are the kids who can score the 1300+/1600 on the SAT. Then everyone wonders why they have kids who have a 3.0 who can’t are taking remedial courses in college. They probably wouldn’t have scored 800 out of 1600 on the SAT, you get about 600 for writing your name and they took all the easy classes, which means they showed up and turned in the assignments.


August 30th, 2010
6:46 pm

Make HOPE a Reimbursement Program where the student pays his tuition up front and then gets reimbursed when he passes the course. You could probably enact a sliding scale, where the student gets reimbursed 100% for an A, 90% for a B, and 80% for a C — which is exactly the way my company’s Educational Reimbursement program works.

A reimbursement program would do two things:
1. It would significantly reduce grade inflation pressure at the high school level.
2. It would eliminate the “go to college for a year, lose HOPE, and drop out” student.


August 30th, 2010
7:13 pm

Problem with “converting it to a loan” besides actually collecting–you have to get a person to sign a prom note for a loan. Why would anyone be willing to sign a “maybe” prom note? And we need to watch how “fancy” we get it–this adds more layers of employees to evaluate, track, etc. We don’t want more money siphoned off for that! We already waste too much money on supervisors.

Simplest thing would be to up the requirements, tie them to an SAT, or require the grades on certain courses, such as requiring an AP course and the test with a 3 or higher. We DO have too many marginal students–never mind “scholars”–going to school through HOPE and the good money of taxpayers.

I really think the AP thing would be a better predictor of college success.


August 30th, 2010
7:29 pm

Traditionally, the poor kids can get government aid and the rich kids don’t need it. It’s the middle class that gets squeezed. This is particularly unfair to parents who have actually tried to save only to have the savings count against them on the FAFSA as compared to the families who did no saving at all! I am all for merit-based scholarships for the middle class and the preservation of the HOPE. Many people are complaining about the B students not deserving the HOPE for college, but let’s not forget that the HOPE grant for people who go to community college has no GPA requirement at all.

Burroughston Broch

August 30th, 2010
8:46 pm

Here’s a simpler and ethical method:
1. Raise the minimum high school GPA to 3.5.
2. Give additional credit for high school honors, AP and IB classes.
3. Once in college, you lose the scholarship if your college GPA drops below 3.0 or if you must take any remedial classes. Once you satisfactorily complete the remedial classes and get your GPA above 3.0, you can return to the scholarship.

If it’s going to be a scholarship, give it to scholars. If not, find something productive to do with the Lottery money (other than pay bonuses to Lottery staff and subsidize non-scholars).

Really amazed

August 30th, 2010
9:54 pm

UGA has a min requirement… 3.8 and min SAT 580 math 560 reading 560 writitng. Georgia Tech 3.8 and min SAT 650 math 580 reading 580 writing look up collegeboard.com to find min gpa and sat scores to colleges. You won’t be going to one of the better universities with anything lower than 3.8 unweighted and min 1800 out of 2400. You can get into KSU, GA STATE, GA Southern, etc with maybe your 3.0 but you still have to have min. SAT score at about 1500 to qualify for HOPE. I am sure this will all change by the time my son is a Senior though!!!