Should HOPE pay only 75 percent of college tuition?

The lottery cannot keep up with the costs of HOPE and pre-k. Something has to give, but what?

The lottery cannot keep up with the costs of HOPE and pre-k. Something has to give, but what?

I attended the General Assembly committee hearing this summer on revamping HOPE, which is running out of money despite what some posters here insist.  With  rising tuition and improved college attendance, the Georgia Lottery — which funds both HOPE and pre-k — cannot keep up with demand.

Many bad ideas were floated at the hearing. One was reducing the amount of HOPE to cover 75  or 80 percent of the tuition tab. My argument against that measure is that HOPE succeeded because it was so straightfoward — attain a  B average in high school, maintain a B average in college and the taxpayers of Georgia will pay your full tuition at a public college.

Start diluting that brilliant concept — thank you Zell Miller for the simplicity of the idea — and HOPE gets murky.

I would prefer that we raise the bar on keeping HOPE, no more losing it and regaining it. We eliminate the smaller HOPE funds that go to students attending private colleges in Georgia. (I know it would hurt; I had a child at Emory for a while, but I think parents who send their kids to private college expect to live on rice and beans.)

We ought to get rid of  all second chances and preserve the simplicity of the merit scholarship: To keep HOPE in college, keep your B average. Only 46.2 percent of students who had HOPE when they began University System colleges still retain it at the 30 credit-hour checkpoint; one year for most students. At 90 credit hours, or about three years, only 37.4 percent are still eligible.

I heard an interview with state Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, this week where he reiterated that HOPE may only be able to cover a portion of tuition in the future. I hope that proposal does not prevail. What do you think?

I think my 11-year-old twins will see a greatly reduced HOPE, and I better redouble my efforts to save for their college educations. You may see me waiting tables at IHOP on weekends. That’s how I got through college and grad school. And it’s where I developed my deep affection for silver dollar pancakes.

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

167 comments Add your comment

deep touble

December 10th, 2010
11:41 am

First off, don’t pay for students that need remedial classes. Investigate for schools that significant number of remedial graduates AND sub-standard SAT/ACT scores for Hope eligible students. Grade inflation is as bad as CRCT cheating if not worse. My daughter’s first roommate at UGA was going into pre-Med and lost hope immediately. She is a great kid that thought she was ready for college based on HS achievement. Her HS failed her! She would have succeeded in a more rigorous environment.

catlady

December 10th, 2010
11:52 am

Well, I am not sure that I agree with you about doing away with the regaining after losing. It is possible to have such a horrible term once that it kills your GPA (a parent dying, for example) so I like being able to regain it, at least ONCE. I’d like to see the first year be a forgiveable loan, to serve as a deterent to the “try it and see if I like it” attitude that so many seem to have. Think of the joy of being able to tear up the promissory note when that 30 hour “test” is completed! I am not in favor of making it “needs-based” at all, or cutting down the percentage of tuition it pays. As I opined yesterday, I DO think there should be an ACT/SAT minimum. Grade inflation is rampant! (As an aside, several years ago I interviewed h.s. counselors from a dozen nearby districts. Each swore that there was no grade inflation at THEIR school, but at that other school down the road grades were completely out of whack.)

One reason to strip it down in terms of eligibility is the sheer amount of money that is spent administering the program. I’d love to see what that adds up to. I know the costs to the colleges originally was tremendous.

Jennifer

December 10th, 2010
11:53 am

I disagree with the idea that once students lose HOPE, they should not be able to regain it. For many students, I think the HOPE scholarship is a major incentive for them to get their grades back up after a tough first year at college. As a recent college graduate, I had many friends who lost the HOPE but worked hard and were able to get it back, saving themselves or their parents a significant amount of money. The first year at college can be a tough adjustment and I don’t think students should be punished indefinitely for a bad first year.

I think the first thing to go should be funding for private schools. There are some excellent colleges in Georgia that can give students a great education, and if they make the choice to attend a private school instead they should accept the higher costs. HOPE currently pays $2000/semester for students in private school, and the tuition for Emory is ~$20000/semester – students/families who are already paying this much can probably afford the extra amount that HOPE covers.

catlady

December 10th, 2010
11:55 am

I also agree with stripping HOPE from the private colleges. While they would argue that they are doing Georgia a “favor” by taking “excess” students, in reality HOPE for the private colleges acts as an endowment-stretcher.

MannyT

December 10th, 2010
12:00 pm

It is reasonable to expect student to keep a B avg to keep HOPE scholarship. At least provide full tuition, not partial deals. If funds are short, catch it on the front end. Top 10% (20%) of the sr class at your HS gets HOPE. That cuts down on grade inflation problem. If everyone at my school has an inflated grade scale, but it is different than the inflated grade scale at your school, the problem works itself out within schools.

What's best for kids?

December 10th, 2010
12:06 pm

If we make it a reimbursement plan, there is no need to hire new people to figure out the percentages, there is no need to worry about inflated grades at the high school level, and there is no need to change anything except to whom they make the check out.
It’s not rocket science!

Lee

December 10th, 2010
12:14 pm

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but make HOPE a reimbursement program where the student pays his/her tuition up front, goes to class, and then gets reimbursed based on whether or not they pass the class. A reimbursement program would do several things:

1. Eliminate the grade inflation pressure at the high school level.
2. Cut back on the number of casual students who go to college “free” for a year, flunk out, and never return.
3. If a student runs headlong into one of those “classes from hell”, they may not get a passing grade, but it wouldn’t “kill” them with regards to HOPE.
4. You could tier the payments – 100% reimbursement for an A, 90% for a B, 80% for a C.

Low income students can get Pell grants and loans to pay the tuition up front, so it should not impact them.

Burroughston Broch

December 10th, 2010
12:20 pm

In addition to the worthy previous comments, cut back or eliminate the hefty bonuses that the Georgia Lottery Corp. awards its employees every year. Their salaries are already at the top of the scale. In 2007 the president received a $236,500 bonus in addition to her $286,000 salary for supervising a staff of fewer than 300.

By law, Georgia Lottery Corp. returns half of the income as prizes, 1/3 to Hope and the rest for operations and marketing. I think that it should be changed to half for prizes, the minimum for operations and marketing, and everything else to Hope.

Shamus

December 10th, 2010
12:31 pm

I like the idea of matching the HOPE amount to the tuition and fees at a 2-year college level – if they charge different amounts. Just because we propose transportation doesn’t mean we give everyone a Cadillac. Also, if students are getting any other scholarships, then those figures should be somehow calculated in to adjust the HOPE amount. The total scholarship amount should not exceed tuition+fees+on-campus room/board.

mystery poster

December 10th, 2010
12:39 pm

I, too, am starting to feel like a broken record (or, to update the term, a corrupted mp3 file):

The purpose of HOPE is to allow students to OBTAIN a 4-year degree, not simply for students to attend college. For anyone who does NOT complete the degree within a certain amount of time, say 5 years, HOPE reverts to a regular old-fashioned student loan.

If the paperwork would be easier, HOPE could start out as a loan and be canceled by providing proof of graduation within a set time period.

mystery poster

December 10th, 2010
12:43 pm

I am very thankful for HOPE, since I teach math, I was able to get the Hope teacher grant to pay for my Masters Degree.

My daughter kept HOPE all through college, except her last semester (she met the credit-hour max).

My son did the opposite of most students, he did not have HOPE going into college but earned it after 30 hours and has kept it ever since.

David Sims

December 10th, 2010
12:57 pm

It’s also possible that a professor will bomb your grade in his class if he finds out you have political views with which he strongly disagrees. Most profs won’t do that, but a few will, and it only takes one.

mystery poster

December 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

Also, add me to the list of those who do NOT want to eliminate the ability to re-gain HOPE.

If a student loses HOPE and has to pay for 30 hours, what better motivation to tow the line than the possibility of getting it back?

col

December 10th, 2010
1:07 pm

Most colleges have merit scholarships of some type or other. When a student fails to meet the continuation requirements, the scholarship is gone.

That is what should happen with HOPE>.

What if

December 10th, 2010
1:12 pm

It would indeed be improper to remove the possibility of regaining the scholarship. There are MANY reasons for grades dropping – Of course coming from a “bad” school with very inflated grades or not having learned adequate discipline, but also having a semester with too big a load or too advanced courses, doing too much volunteer work, or losing a parent to cancer or a car accident – -. How many others of you have failed at something, picked yourself up and kept on going? Some of you have committed felonies, and you’re pretty much never forgiven. But to never be forgiven for getting a semester below 3.0??? Pretty harsh, guilty no matter what.
Few of us like the abject greed of the lottery operators, but the legislature set them up that way. Said greedy ones will argue that they’re better than all the rest of us, so they deserve more. Only the legislature can change that. Likely when the earth reverses rotation.

@catlady, perhaps, but as I noted under another of these, the correlation between mommy & daddy’s income and SAT score is VERY high. We’d be almost as accurate just to base HOPE on their tax returns. On the other hand, perhaps a little research (rather than the usual arbitrary and capricious decision process usually used in such matters) would tell us what a reasonable minimum would be in most cases.

Lynn43

December 10th, 2010
1:43 pm

Everyone’s situation as to why they were able to keep HOPE or lost HOPE is different. My child (I just raised her.) is a special ed student whose entire high school career was centered around graduating with honors and getting HOPE (her goal). She has to study twice as hard as regular students and this she did to achieve her goal. She did graduate with honors and received HOPE.

In her first semester, not knowing of her disabilities, the advisor assigned her a very hard course which she should not have had the first semester. She made all A’s and B’s on the other courses but made a C on this one. As she doesn’t take an excessive load, she lost HOPE by a hundredth of a point, but they checked her grades after the 2nd semester-not 30 hours which she did not have.

She is not a party animal or social butterfly and has done nothing but study to get HOPE back, and I think she will next time they check. This is an obsession with her not me. Maureen, sometimes students loose HOPE, not because they have not done their best, but because of other circumstances. Not regaining this scholarship when the grades have been “remade” is not an option.

Because of her ambition, she will be a success, and any college will be very glad to have her as a graduate.

Lynn43

December 10th, 2010
1:46 pm

Sorry! My hand was a little heavy on the “Os”. Should be lose not loose.

Just Wondering

December 10th, 2010
2:45 pm

HOPE should be need based but I would concede a minimum SAT/ACT would be acceptable. Reward the achievers, especially those that had to claw their way up the ladder and didn’t start in the middle or close to the end. Students that are not economically disadvantaged have hope through access to resources. The kids that need HOPE the most are the ones who have the ability but not the resources. You do this you’ll save a nice chuck of money for the program.

Private colleges should have never been on the list in the first place, but they have a strong lobby that will fight for their piece.

Those that support it being for everyone just want to make sure their kids or relatives get it even if they have the resources to pay for higher ed. The money they save from not paying college tuition can go for other uses to their individual benefit.

Also, turning it into a loan/reimbursement makes it a loan not a scholarship and diminishes the program as a whole. This is just another way to protect the dreams of some (not economically disadvantaged) while dashing those of others (economically disadvantaged). And making it a loan does not make the paperwork easier

Just Wondering

December 10th, 2010
2:48 pm

Students should get at 1-2 chances to regain but with conditions.

mystery poster

December 10th, 2010
3:05 pm

@Wondering
How does having HOPE revert to a loan if a student doesn’t graduate dash the hopes of the economically disadvantaged?

Gary Still

December 10th, 2010
3:13 pm

With 2 daughters in college the Hope has been a needed blessing. Our oldest daughter lost hope the 1st year but regained it the second year and has been on the dean’s list evey since so I would strongly oppose loosing it without the chance to regain it. I don’t understand funding the pre-K programs and think that should be the 1st cut. We are paying for 3-4 year olds to be baby sat at our expense. Most pre-k’s dont even offer any educational classes. Now ask yourself where the money should be invested. In our 18-22 year olds who are ready to become our new leaders or someone who has hardly been potty trained. One more thing, if hope is in such diere straights why are we still handed out million dollar bonuses to the people who run it.

ATF

December 10th, 2010
3:20 pm

Means test Hope Scholarships. If the family has a high income then give less Hope Scholarship but keep the full scholarship for those whose families cannot otherwise pay.

Getting loans for college can leave a child with debts that stay with them for 20 years. I don’t think we should consider loans a solution for those who already don’t have many resources behind them, especially for students who have worked hard in school to meet the grade requirement.

Finally, do allow someone who loses Hope due to a bad semester to regain Hope if grades are improved. Most of us run into something during college that proves we aren’t nearly as smart as we thought – Advanced Statistics, anyone?

Tech Dad

December 10th, 2010
3:30 pm

It would appear that the high school qualifications need to be tightened. When more than half of those students who qualified in high school loose their grant in the first year of college, we are spending way too much on students who are likely to never finish college. Perhaps we should require a 3.5 high school GPA and give extra credit for AP courses.
I like being able to regain a lost scholarship because the student has incentive to work hard, but he gets nothing until he has proven himself.

Aquagirl

December 10th, 2010
3:34 pm

Investing money in Pre-K provides more for the dollar—I don’t care how much money you spend on an 18 year old, if they didn’t learn to read well in the first few years of school, you’re p*ssing in the wind.

Of course this goes against the thousands of middle-class parents who don’t want to pay for college, so I fully expect to see Pre-K funding bite the dust. It doesn’t matter how well a program works or if it is sustainable in the long term. What matters is popularity with voters. See: Security, Social.

Scott from Fairburn

December 10th, 2010
3:39 pm

For those that want to toss out HOPE for private colleges, be careful:

The high-end public colleges and universities don’t have the class space to provide access to all students … be prepared to increase the budgets for state schools for faculty hiring, facilities, and the like. A kid that wants to attend Mercer University (with HOPE) probably does not see Columbus State as an alternative (without HOPE).

I believe the idea in making HOPE applicable to private schools is a way to expand access by using existing resources (private colleges and universities) rather than incur – what I am sure would be – exorbitant costs to expand the public option.

Thuga

December 10th, 2010
3:42 pm

No to Need Based Hope – already federal dollars there
No to private schools – clearly a decision
No to regaining status – that’s life baby! (no excuses)
No to Pre K – obvious child care
No to remedial classes – duh high school!

Yes to SAT/ACT qualifying in addition to grades
Yes to Hope at GA Technical Colleges
Yes to Lottery Bonuses (when income goals are met)
Yes to Hope for Georgia High School Graduates (9-12 grades) Not 1 or 2 years attendance.

My daughter graduated with Honors from Technical College with Assoc Deg.
My Son is Senior at SPSU and will graduate with honors.
No college debt for either one. They both knew that if they didn’t make the grades then they would have to work and go to school. Both have received HOPE funding.

Take the Pre K money and spend it in the high schools to make sure they are prepared for the next level!

P.S. Never bought a lottery ticket!

L Dodd

December 10th, 2010
3:44 pm

Instead of lowering the percentage of costs covered for all by the scholarship to a point which would be cost prohibitive: scholarships should only be awarded to those attending state schools; both the GPA and SAT scores required for entry need to be raised; provisions need to be made for the students that, in the past, would have gotten a scholarship to a four-year college to have the option to apply for scholarships to attend state technical school. Any, most importantly, any student with failing scores in the first year, caught cheating, kicked out for disciplinary reasons; quits or otherwise fails to succesfully complete the first–or any subsequent year–with a passing grade should be required to repay the scholarship fund for the tuition for that year–this one provision has the potential to discourage a lot of the partying time that should be used for studying and reserve limited educational resources for those that are going to college or technical school to learn.

Rose

December 10th, 2010
3:55 pm

The HOPE helped put our daughter through UGA. She never lost it and that’s what we expected. We told her, due to her capabilities, that if she lost the HOPE then she would have to get student loans. I also could see in her freshman year, being in a sorority and fairly social, that I would have to add an incentive. It’s hard to make up grades, so I put out the carrot of paying for half her sorority expenses if she made a 3.5 and would pay for all of them if she made a 4.0. My real goal was for her to maintain higher than a 3.0, thus retaining the HOPE. It worked. Good thing. Our financial position changed drastically and the HOPE was fabulous for us and her. And no debt for anyone!!

ugadawg2005

December 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

No means test should be required for the HOPE scholarship unless we pass a law that requires parents to pay for a child’s tuition.

Cutting HOPE to less than 100% will raise student loan levels. When students graduate with more loans, earnings go to pay off loans with interest rather than back into the local economy (one of the reasons for HOPE and keeping kids in-state.)

The legislature needs to cut back on special interest tax breaks and properly fund higher education. The crisis in HOPE was created by cuts to education. The institutions have been forced to raise tuition to balance out the cuts. (This was the legislature’s method of getting its hands on the lottery funds).

We should freeze tuition at our public colleges and universities for the next 10 years. The rise in the costs of tuition is the reason HOPE is struggling even though the lottery is making more money than it did in the 90’s.

Lastly, HOPE should not go to private schools. If the students want HOPE, they have options. If they want to go to a private school, that is their option.

Private School Dad

December 10th, 2010
3:57 pm

For those that want to take the Hope away from private school students also remember that Hope only pays $4000 per year for private schools and full tuition at public schools. The fund saves money by paying the smaller amount to private school students. It is interesting that this discussion follows the same pattern as everything else in this country lately. The Hope shouldn’t be and isn’t a “needs based” program. It is an earned program and the kids who earn the Hope by their hard work in high schools deserve it just as much if they go to a private school as if they go to a public school.

Sk8ing Momma

December 10th, 2010
4:14 pm

Mystery Poster — I love your idea! HOPE should become a loan if one does not obtain his college degree in a reasonable amount of time (6 yrs. max).

Lee — You’re out of touch with the masses. Making HOPE a reimbursement program puts college out of reach for most. The majority of HOPE recipients have no means for paying for college up front.

I feel strongly that HOPE should remain merit-based and not need-based. I also STRONGLY believe that funds for the GA preK program should be eliminated. It is nothing more than free babysitting. HOPE has been around long enough to have students enrolled in the initial preK program to have graduated from college…Where are those students? What impact did the free preK program have on students v. students in the same graduating that did not attend a free preK program? My guess is that there was no difference.

rob

December 10th, 2010
4:18 pm

To start with they should eliminate the huge bonuses that lottery employees get every year.
Reduce lottery staff, give lottery furlongs, quit making stupid commercials.

GoldenDawg

December 10th, 2010
4:20 pm

Someone needs to do an audit on the Lottery. As a retailer my sales have not gone up but the amount of money that I pay the lottery has gone way up. I also see how much I am paying out in winning tickets and it is at an all time low.

Joe

December 10th, 2010
4:23 pm

I would like the option of a pre-paid college plan like Florida. That way parents could go ahead and pay the tuition and not worry if the kids keep up their grades. It could ease the burden on Hope funds.

Shannon

December 10th, 2010
4:23 pm

Of course HOPE should be eliminated for private colleges, but that’s not going to happen. The private school lobby is very strong, as Just Wondering pointed out correctly. Those who argue that it takes the pressure off our public schools… Well, I have yet to meet anyone for whom a $4K/yr grant makes the difference between affording and not affording a $20K/yr college, and I believe that anyone who says it does is disingenuous.

Of course there should be a means cap on HOPE. If the family makes more than $100K a year (or pick another arbitrary number, maybe as a multiple of the poverty line), then begin scaling it proportionately back. They don’t need it… emphasis need. But that will not happen, either. HOPE is now seen as a middle class entitlement program.

And of course this is why the pre-K funding is being attacked. It’s not a babysitting program; it’s a demonstrably effective means of eliminating some of the gap between the middle and lower socio-economic classes. The middle class folks don’t see the point in that. Wonder why?

Paying for only part of tuition with HOPE is essentially turning it into another “nice to have” scholarship that won’t actually enable those who need it to go. Similarly, demanding reimbursement if a student loses HOPE will deter many promising students from attending. Lose it and never get it back? Refuse to help pay for remedial courses? Well, that penalizes those students who are from low-quality school systems. And since that’s not most middle-class parents, that’s just fine.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he’ll want to see the Centers for Learning Fishing closed down, because he doesn’t need them anymore, and by golly, he essentially taught himself to fish (at least, that’s what he tells himself). Furthermore, fishing is so gosh darn simple, he doesn’t understand why everyone isn’t fishing already. They must be lazy.

Shannon

December 10th, 2010
4:28 pm

One more thing–tuition costs will stop rising at public colleges when the state stops gutting the budget for college and university systems. Even with tuition increases, the cuts have been astronomical.

Further, the draconian cuts experienced by the state’s public colleges this year are going to be even worse in the upcoming Republican administration by the corporate-worshipping Deal. Get used to more tuition for fewer services.

As Deal has said, education is now a low priority for the state.

Futbol4a

December 10th, 2010
4:36 pm

1. Only pay for the number of students the funds allow (higher averages accepted).
2. When lost, it is gone – no “re-earning” Hope.
3. Pay for full tuition and books, etc. for those earning hope.

Pretty simple.

Ed from Fayetteville

December 10th, 2010
4:39 pm

Students in private colleges have historically been short-changed by the HOPE Scholarship program. The State of Georgia provides much heftier support to students in public institutions of higher education. Reducing — or eliminating — HOPE Scholarship funds to students in private colleges is a very bad idea. Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, the finances of families from which private college students come are quite similar to the finances of families from which public college students come.

JASon

December 10th, 2010
4:39 pm

Maureen, so you think that schools should be allowed to raise their tuition as much as they please and the hope should still pay all of it? That doesn’t even address why they continue to raise tuition at a huge rate in such tough economic times.

Also, I’m not sure how “brilliant” a system based on b average is. It seems common sense to me.

Augustagolfer

December 10th, 2010
4:43 pm

This is not rocket science…

Anytime students are required to make an investment into their education, they’ll likely work harder at it. My idea is to have EVERY student pay for their college tuition upfront and get REIMBURSED if they earn an A or B at the end of the semester. If you want to pay 75% for a B and 100% for an A, that’ll work, too.

End of discussion.

Doug

December 10th, 2010
4:44 pm

HOPE most certainly isn’t wasted on students at private colleges. Many receive other scholarships – often offered by the school – that reduce the cost of private school tuition dramatically. I know several people who just barely covered private school tuition through a combination of HOPE, merit-based scholarships, and need-based grants. Additionally, some private college students are using student loans to cover all or part of the cost and HOPE at least reduces the student loan debt level upon graduation.

Cammi317

December 10th, 2010
4:45 pm

I definitely agree with not paying for remedial classes and private colleges. That being said, it seems that the higher ups are frustrated because too many of our students are qualifying for HOPE in general. They need not worry because after everything is stripped from the K-12 programs, no one will qualify for college any way. Have to keep the minimum wage worker ratio status quo. Way to go Georgia!

Gerald

December 10th, 2010
4:48 pm

Maureen:

The main problem with government social welfare programs – and HOPE is most certainly one – is that they are generally retained after their creation long after they are either A) proven to be ineffective or even counterproductive or B) the original set of circumstances that justified their creation no longer exist. And for HOPE, B) is the case. Make no mistake: the reason why HOPE was created was to keep the best Georgia students from leaving the state for better universities elsewhere, particularly those in Florida, Texas, Virginia and North Carolina. It was a way of reducing brain drain and increasing the reputation of our state universities on the cheap (i.e. without working to improve the quality of our universities, or for that matter of our K-12 system), a perfect solution for the conservative Democrats who ran this state at the time (where conservative Republicans would have denied that it was a problem worth addressing in the first place).

But look, that was way back in 1990, before the Olympics, and before the economic boom, and before the growth of the Atlanta suburbs and exurbs with well-educated, high income families (mostly transplants) to stock outstanding public and private high schools. Before then, there wasn’t really a whole lot that separated Georgia from Alabama, South Carolina etc. Now, the state has changed, and part of that change includes an AAU university that is one of the top 5 public colleges in the nation (Georgia Tech), another highly ranked university that will soon reach AAU status now that it is adding programs in engineering and medicine (UGA), a legitimate urban research and liberal arts university (Georgia State) plus some other fast risers (Kennesaw State, and now that they also have engineering Georgia Southern). So, instead of needing HOPE to bribe a relatively small number of top high school students to stay in state to attend a pedestrian (to be kind) university system with an antiquated governance model, HOPE is now a welfare program for a large pool of mostly affluent students that would have remained in-state anyway. The program is no longer needed and should be scrapped altogether.

Some have suggested that HOPE should be means-tested to limit its number of recipients. The issue there is that needy families already receive need-based financial aid. Similar problems exist with other proposals: they don’t justify the existence of the program and are merely inventing ways to try to keep around a program that is obsolete, or to put it another way to find a way to justify continuing to spend the money. And yes, that includes the pre-K program: what evidence is there that it actually improves the academic performance of the children who receives it, or increases the quality of preschools? Or I should say that the folks who support “universal preschool” need to openly advocate their agenda instead of using HOPE funds to implement this progressive goal stealthily and incrementally.

So, 1 of 2 things should be done. The first is to simply end the lottery. The lottery preys on a vulnerable population (addicts, desperate, the poor), legalizes and legitimizes a social problem, and is not only a regressive tax, but a reverse Robin Hood scheme, one that takes revenue mostly from the poor mostly for the benefits of the upper classes. I suppose progressives and liberals countenance this outrageous scheme primarily because it represents some sort of victory over the fundamentalist or evangelical Christians that oppose gambling. Allow me to say that any “victory” that results in unemployed single mothers and gambling addicts subsidizing the university educations of people that have the means to pay for it themselves is not worth having. (By the way: the fundamentalist and evangelical Christians who accept HOPE money but are talking about opting out of ObamaCare have some explaining to do.)

If we choose to retain the loathsome lottery, then its revenue should be directed towards something more worthwhile. For instance, instead of paying for tuition, the money could be used to add programs to the colleges themselves (i.e. the engineering program at UGA, and in particular raising the many “universities in name only” in this state to actual universities … only UGA, GT, Georgia State and Medical College of Georgia are legitimate, comprehensive competitive universities … compare our other universities to the California State University System – not the University of California system with the elite schools like UCLA and Berkeley mind you, but the Cal State system with schools like Fresno State – and it becomes a huge joke that entities like Albany State, West Georgia, Valdosta State and Columbus State are called “universities.”). Perhaps it could be used to improve innovations in K-12 (i.e. magnet schools that would be run by the state instead of local school boards, vocational/technical training for non-college bound students, afterschool programs, AP classes and other amenities for rural and other underfunded schools, online classes, a grant program for charter schools).

Or a better idea: what about transportation and infrastructure? Long needed highways, port expansion in Savannah, light rail, heavy rail, high speed rail, streetcars, trolleys etc. That and alternative energy research. Now that this state will finally have 3 public engineering schools, it is an excellent time to become a national leader in getting us off both foreign oil and scams like ethanol.

The bottom line: HOPE is outdated. And it is also bad social policy for this state, to create the expectation of being able to go to college for free. (Or if we are going to implement some sort of liberal socialist – excuse me, progressive – scheme like that, then pay for it with something other than lottery funds.) Either end the lottery altogether (my preference) or use the money to solve an EXISTING state problem (like transportation) and not something that hasn’t been a problem (brain drain) for going on 10 years.

Shannon

December 10th, 2010
4:50 pm

JASon, public colleges are raising their rates because the state isn’t funding them. They have cut programs and staff to the point of ridiculousness. The tuition hikes don’t begin to match the funding cuts.

Fundad

December 10th, 2010
4:51 pm

Well first of all you need to put a freeze on college tuition costs. The yearly rate of increase in tuition rates is rediculous and especially so for books. My son is studying accounting @ Kennesaw State and his books last semester were over $800 bucks & the editions are updated every year so you have to pay for a new one every year. Second, I would cap pre-k spending to a certain level. I think that parents can should pay a portion of the costs of Pre-K for their child as its benefits are dubious @ best. We are starting kids out earlier and they are still behind so something is not working there. Those areas would be a starting place for reform.

r

December 10th, 2010
4:55 pm

One of the major problems with HOPE is that no school wants to have the least amount of HOPE scholars, so there is rampant grade inflation. So now you have ‘C’ students getting HOPE.

Hate to sound cold hearted, but it’s a matter of resource allocation. If HOPE can’t cover everyone, then we start at the top and hand it out until it’s gone.

Shannon

December 10th, 2010
4:55 pm

If a student who wants to attend a private school can’t afford it, then she/he should consider some of Georgia’s fine public schools. However, tax money shouldn’t be used to support private enterprises, including colleges. We agree that education is important, so we subsidize it; however, we cannot afford to subsidize private education.

Shannon

December 10th, 2010
4:57 pm

Fundad, you should petition the Georgia legislature to stop cutting the budget to the state’s public colleges. The amount of money gained from the tuition hikes doesn’t begin to cover what was cut. Services have been chopped mercilessly the past few years, and you can expect more tuition hikes and service cuts as the state budget deprioritizes education even further.

GATech

December 10th, 2010
4:57 pm

A 3.0 is absolutely not good enough to deserve FREE education! Get a dose of reality! You won’t get a job nowadays with that kind of GPA, but the state will reward you anyways?
-GA Tech student with 3.72 in Biomedical Engineering

GATech

December 10th, 2010
4:58 pm

I completely agree with everything Gerald said!