Roy Barnes: Wrong solutions on HOPE Scholarship

Roy Barnes

Roy Barnes

I received this note from former Gov. Roy Barnes, who granted me permission to share it although he was aware that critics would jump in and accuse him of sour grapes or worse

As the first generation in my family to attend college, I share Barnes’ concern that the changes in HOPE will hurt kids who do not come from a family with strong education backgrounds.

I also think the 3.7 GPA to get Full HOPE and the 3.5 to keep it is steep, considering that the average GPA for the students in Georgia Tech’s Honors Program is below 3.5. (The average GPA in the Honors Program at Tech  is 3.34 for the Class of 2011 and 3.37 for the Class of 2012. )

Please, be respectful in comments as I am going to be en route to Athens and my editor hates to play traffic cop in my absence.

From the former governor:

A message from exile where grandchildren and cows rule the day. I can’t believe what we have done to HOPE. Did there need to be a change made to HOPE? Without a doubt, but what we are doing is the wrong solution. The answer would have been to go back to the original plan for HOPE. Available to those with a family income of $75k for a single parent and $150k for two parents.

Now, to get the full ride for HOPE you have to have a 3.7 GPA and a 1200 SAT. This favors kids who come from affluent families. As a first generation college graduate I know first generation kids generally score lower on the SAT and that is generally from family circumstances. Children in non college families don’t get exposed early to the breadth of learning as kids from college graduate homes.

My children scored significantly higher on SAT than their mother or me, and their children will score even higher. What we have done is give HOPE to the affluent families who can already afford to send their kids to college, and deprive poorer white and black kids an opportunity to break out. Bad policy.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

164 comments Add your comment

Michael Moore

February 25th, 2011
10:41 am

I am in agreement with the former governor on this. It just got much harder for someone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Both of my children used the Hope Scholarship, kept it all four years, graduated from UGA, attended graduate school and are professionals living in the Atlanta area. Neither of them would have qualified under the new restrictions and as an educator you can be sure that it’s not because of income.

U Gotta B Kidding

February 25th, 2011
10:42 am

I’ll be respectful…
because the man tells the truth in this case!

Sonny Clusters

February 25th, 2011
10:44 am

We was always wanting to get a HOPE scholarship but we was too affluent in math and almost as much with our verbal skills. Roy Barnes knows what he is saying and so do we. That’s why Ol’ Roy got the Clusters vote and almost nobody else. We was wondering if he’s going to run for something else like Ol’ Guy Milner did so many times?

HStchr

February 25th, 2011
10:45 am

You know, every now and then old Roy CAN say something I agree with….not often, but this one definitely hits the bullseye! A 3.0 or even a 3.2 can be hard to maintain in college, but the challenge needs to be there. Only the top 10% of kids will be able to maintain a 3.7 throughout four years. Once again, the conservative will to put the disadvantaged further down seems to be working. Kids from affluent homes will get it and the kids from poorer families, who need it most when Pell and other financial aid doesn’t cover college costs, will be left out. Unfortunately, considering the ridiculously high tuition in most colleges, you can’t go to school and work nights anymore to pay your way. Congratulations to Deal and the rest of the republicans for once again reminding us that our poor just don’t deserve anything that MIGHT help them find a way out of poverty.

TinaTeach

February 25th, 2011
10:46 am

Agreed. I managed to keep HOPE all four years (only 25% of students do that if I remeber correctly). I graduated with a 3.2. Not the highest GPA I’ve ever had but still it was a good GPA considering I came out with BA and a BSED in four years.

How about keep the current requirements, but make it a loan for each semester that you score below a 3.0?

APS Parent

February 25th, 2011
10:48 am

I agree that there needed to be a change but it is not a change for the better. Cost could have been cut in salaries at the Lottery program itself. On the education end, lower tuition. But raising the scores so that only a certain group of kids could use it was unfair. I agree with Barnes, with the current statues it seems that HOPE is for the affulent and not every student in the state of Georgia. But, I believe we are just beginning to see how the new regime in Georgia will treat it’s citizens.

Common Since

February 25th, 2011
10:50 am

I graduated from Georgia Tech in 2009, and while I would have (barely) maintained the Full HOPE under these new rules, I don’t know of anyone else that would have qualified. 3.5 is above graduating with high honors (and highEST begins at 3.55). There needs to be special considerations for avg. GPA.

gm

February 25th, 2011
10:52 am

This is what happens when idiots in Georgia continue to put Rep in office in this backward state:
When will these Georgia hicks stop voting against their interest? Deal and those idiots at the capitol could care less about education.

HOPE no more

February 25th, 2011
10:53 am

I agree with Gov. Barnes income limits should be the first change to Hope. My son will be graduating in May 2011. For now he qualifies for the HOPE Scholarship. My daughter qualified for the HOPE Scholarship back in 2002. This issue will affect every family in the state that has children. Why have the public been given the opportunity to discuss this issue before the changes are put into effect. And yes the affluent society of Georgia will benefit the most from the changes put in place by the new administration in the state house. Most affluent people in this state never play the lottery in the first place so why should they benefit. It’s mostly the poor who spend their hard earned money on the lottery.

Hope Lost……..

HOPE no more

February 25th, 2011
10:56 am

I agree with Gov. Barnes income limits should be the first change to Hope. My son will be graduating in May 2011. For now he qualifies for the HOPE Scholarship. My daughter qualified for the HOPE Scholarship back in 2002. This issue will affect every family in the state that has children. Why haven’t the public been given the opportunity to discuss this issue before the changes are put into effect. And yes the affluent society of Georgia will benefit the most from the changes put in place by the new administration in the state house. Most affluent people in this state never play the lottery in the first place so why should they benefit. It’s mostly the poor who spend their hard earned money on the lottery.

Hope Lost……..

Sonny Clusters

February 25th, 2011
10:57 am

We was thinking the ones that made the changes was probably not aware of the GPA situations at the colleges and universities that was getting the HOPE students. When we was affluent in class we would sometimes be praised by our teacher but almost never did it lead to anything grade-wise so it didn’t seem to make much difference for us. We would have gone to Clemson anyway because of their landscape program where you can graduate and get a nice discount on mowers and trimmers.

Kt

February 25th, 2011
10:58 am

Probably the only thing I’ve ever agreed with this man on. I don’t think income should be a facter period in determining eligibility. 3.7/3.5 is too high.

Chad

February 25th, 2011
10:59 am

AMEN Governor! My sentiments exactly.

The new requirements will also create the incentive to take less rigorous courses in high school and college in order to maintain a higher GPA.

Blue Fox

February 25th, 2011
11:01 am

King Roy is right on this one, the GPA requirements are way too high for 95%+ of the GA senior class population.

CC03

February 25th, 2011
11:02 am

As a school counselor, many of my students are already worried about the proposed changes to HOPE. Students that have worked hard to maintain (or exceed) the 3.0 GPA were counting on HOPE funds to pay for their college tuition and expenses next year. I worry about how these students will finance their college educations. I was a recipient of the HOPE scholarship and I kept it for four years. I worked hard in college, but I also feel very fortunate to have graduated with my BSED without having to take out a single penny in college loans.

Double Zero Eight

February 25th, 2011
11:04 am

Once the ranks are significantly thinned out, the nest egg
will be built back up and the legislature will reconsider the
criteria. By then, the damage will be done and many will
have lost out on the opportunity for HOPE.

It would make more sense to control it on the front end
and have a formula with a minimum ACT or SAT, in conjunction
with a GPA requirement such as 3.2 for entering freshman.

SOUTHERN ATL

February 25th, 2011
11:06 am

Georgia wake up…You continue to vote for these types of politicians and when they make changes that you don’t like, you complain!! When has the Republican regime had the “citizens” best interest at heart? Only the affluent will continue to prosper.

Who plays the lottery??? Very interesting facts…..

http://www.cviog.uga.edu/publications/pprs/51.pdf

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

February 25th, 2011
11:07 am

The false presumption underlying Barnes’ letter is that HOPE Lite is a dealbreaker for college-bound kids; that they simply won’t be able to go unless ALL their bills are paid by lotto-ticket-buyers. Can you say “entitlement mentality?”

Are you really telling me that a kid who gets a 3.2 GPA in a GEORGIA PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL, which means the bar has already been set extremely low, won’t stoop to take out a student loan (or get a job; I did both) to bridge the gap between “HOPE Lite” and tuition/fees/living expenses? That’s crazytalk.

We’ve simply been forced to make the HOPE incentive less rosy– for valid financial reasons. But it’s still a ridiculously easy-to-obtain life-changer for those willing to work for it.

If you want to take the high moral ground, why not talk about how a lotto is a regressive tax on the poor and especially the poor-and-stupid? But no, you’ve got to take the tired old liberal punish-the-successful approach. How’d that work out for you in Nov.?

Inman Park Boy

February 25th, 2011
11:08 am

Mr. Barnes is correct. Its a shame he doesn’t just join the Republican party so he could be governor again.

ED

February 25th, 2011
11:09 am

I’d like to see a breakdown on how much money the lottery brings in every year and how the money is used. What are the HOPE costs versus other costs?

Kat Mandu

February 25th, 2011
11:09 am

I agree with Ole Roy, the cattleman, don’t raise the requirements to something unabtainable for most students.

We do need to do something to rein in tuition increases, the thing that destroyed the program. The schools had absolutely no incentive to hold down increases as the majority of the students were on Hope and they did not complain because the had the scholarship. Put a limit on the total amount of money a student can draw per semester. Maybe then as the tuition exceeds the scholarship, the students will have the incentive to maybe look at cheaper options. Demand controls price.

Maureen Downey

February 25th, 2011
11:11 am

@Springdale, The reduction in HOPE coupled with the loss of books and fees is about $8,000 for the research university students. Is that insurmountable? Some families won’t bat any eye, but not sure about lower-income families. There is a study about barriers to colleges and I was surprised how relatively small amounts of money dissuaded qualified students from going to better colleges. The kids were from the poorest households where $8,000 may seem like a deal breaker. (By the way, the $8,000 does not count room and board, so overall, these kids would be look at more like $30,000 over the four years if they lived at the college. That loan amount would daunt even middle-class kids.)
Maureen

Dr. Phil

February 25th, 2011
11:11 am

About seven years ago, Sonny “Go Fish” Perdue and minions at the Board of Regents removed the SAT entrance requirement from two-year institutions. The SAT remains the most valid predictor of success in college. This action eliminated the poorest performers on the SAT and caused a bump in SAT averages, which Sonny claimed was evidence of improved performance in secondary programs, which he ironically attributed to his leadership. It also flooded two-year schools with students who had no business in college. Between the HOPE and Pell Grants, thousands of students each year had a paid vacation from the work force or from technical programs that would have been better suited to their ability and motivation level. This was a terrible waste of state and federal money that applied to about 20% of enrollment in the state’s two-year programs. Furthermore, these students disrupted learning with their cell phones and ipods for the more serious students who were motivated and deserving of financial aid. I had students in class who had the latest in cell-phone technolgy who claimed they couldn’t afford text books. The role of two-year programs should be to funnel students into four-year programs from which they graduate. I don’t know the exact figure of graduation rate for freshmen in the University System, but I would guess it is no higher than 30%. Georgia’s four-year universities have fairly strenuous admission standards and relatively high graduation rates. The state and the HOPE Scholarship would be better served if two and four year colleges maintained realistic admission standards based on SAT scores and academic performance in high schools. Such standards would lead to smaller but more successful enrollment in state programs and save millions of dollars wasted on unmotivated college students who have no interest in or prospects of graduating.

Pluto

February 25th, 2011
11:12 am

@ gm Delta is ready when you are. HOPE has become a middle class entitlement program that was abused. Why was it paying for remedial courses. Why would a 3.0 high school graduate need remedial course work. We all know why; the standards had to be raised to be a meaningful progam. Will my daughter qualify for the new HOPE; probably not but she has something to work for. Students were obviously not working too hard for a 3.0.

Doug

February 25th, 2011
11:13 am

I cannot believe I am agreeing with Mr. Barnes, but I do think there needs to be some type of income limit. I do not like that the HOPE is the poor paying for the upper middle class to go to college. I also think that the GPA’s are high for the top Universities (Tech, UGA) and all that will cause is more grade inflation. A combination of standards (GPA, SAT scores) and income limits would help the students that need the help and can succeed.

Rob

February 25th, 2011
11:13 am

Awesome. You lose the governorship and the majority party after 130-something years of Democrat control–all this after redistricting, mind you. Then you lose outright–in an election that most pundits say will surely lead to a run-off–to a candidate who is dogged by troubling ethical issues.

Why this guy has ANY political clout in this state is beyond my comprehension.

I guess I’ll say it, then: Barnes, the people of Georgia, outside of the AJC or Marietta Daily Journal editorial boards, clearly are not really interested in what you think or have to say.

Vince

February 25th, 2011
11:17 am

Wow! Get ready for this….. I completely agree with Roy Barnes on this one.

Completely.

American

February 25th, 2011
11:17 am

The problem is too many high school students are getting HOPE, because the government-run school system is a joke. Too many people are going to college, the mandated classes in college are a joke, and people need to remove their sense of entitlement.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

February 25th, 2011
11:17 am

@SOUTHERN ATL: You make my point for me. Here’s the money quote from the survey you cite:

“The survey data indicate…lottery play tends to be regressive; less-educated and black lottery players were more likely to be active players and to play games with more frequent draws.”

This much is true: the lotto is a cynical tax on the poor and minorities. But the failure of lotto players to capitalize on HOPE’s benefits (like Pre-K and college scholarships) is not because the bar is set too high, it’s because the family values that permit lotto-playing in a household that can’t afford it also permit parents to abandon their role as stewards of their childrens’ education.

The biggest problem in education is bad parents. Until we attack that problem–by making ALL parents EARN the right to send their children to free public schools– the rest is just noise.

Sid

February 25th, 2011
11:18 am

I don’t agree w/the proposed changes but I don’t like income limits either – I would do two things:

1. make it reimbursement-based per class – 100% for an A, 75% for a B & ZERO below that. this model has worked extremely well for corporations (/employees) for decades & seems like a no-brainer to me…

2. target & scale by major – we need a lot more engineers, scientists, doctors & nurses than poli-si, engligh & gender studies majors – the “soft” studies can get funded w/whatever’s left over after the productive students eat…

Dr. John Trotter

February 25th, 2011
11:18 am

Govenor Barnes: I agree with you.

cs

February 25th, 2011
11:18 am

from south ga, holding my nose and agreeing with king roy.

Toccoa Reader

February 25th, 2011
11:18 am

He is absolutely correct! This will not help education in Georgia.

HStchr

February 25th, 2011
11:20 am

Springdale: How is a college student going to earn enough while taking college courses to cover the costs? I did both, but then I only paid about a thousand per quarter for college classes in the 80’s. Now the average four year college is multiple times more expensive and there aren’t enough part-time jobs kids can get. It clearly locks out those kids whose families cannot subsidize the education and makes them totally dependent on federal aid. That’s what Gov. Dealbreaker wants anyway- save the money for the affluent and leave the rest to fend for themselves. Yeah, that really speaks to the original intent of HOPE…now we should name it HOPELESS.

oldtimer

February 25th, 2011
11:21 am

Sorry Roy….Though I am old, I never was qualified to receive ANY money from the state at any state school. My father…very well educated…made to much money. The problem was a member of my family was very ill. This took nearly all his money, even with good insurance. We in our fmaily were on our own for education. Fortunately private colleges are not so regimented and I received a lot of money, worked, and maintained a scholarship as well.
My husband and I were both public service employees. We had very little money to save after our bills were paid. Our children had the HOPE money. This did allow them to go to 4 year college. That and keeping jobs allowed them to graduate without debt.
I do think the standards have been set to high and will cause more grade inflation. Colleges need to do a much better job of keeping costs down. The tuition increases have far outpaced inflation.
Ole Roy sounds like he might want to run for something again.

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think further

February 25th, 2011
11:23 am

Anyone can have an opinion, and it seems (to me) Governor Barnes’s is based on politics (of class) more than economic reality. The 3.5 is only required under the new rules to get the Zell Miller scholarship – meaning a full ride. What’s wrong with rewarding the truly excellent in this way? For those who can’t make that cut, the proposal provides very ample support for academically prepared students to attend college. Maybe requiring a small personal contribution to one’s college costs will help the student appreciate the generous (though not 100%) portion of tuition that Hope is still paying. Politics aside, making Hope solvent, while encouraging and rewarding excellence, benefits all Georgians.

oldtimer

February 25th, 2011
11:24 am

Truely low income families qualify for Pell among other scholarship based plans.

urbanlegend2

February 25th, 2011
11:25 am

Would someone look at the waste of Pell Grants? Isn’t that money just handed over to “students” to spend as they like and not on actual tuition, books, fees? Some even spend the money on cell phones, iPads, and other personal items that have nothing to do with education. Now convince me that it is not a waste of good money that could be used in other areas.

Bill

February 25th, 2011
11:27 am

Of course he is right. Why is no one talking about restoring the target proportions as a starting point. I believe that originally about 35% of the lottery money was supposed to go to HOPE, but it has been about 28%. Lets restore that before we talk about any cuts. Then if that is not enough, Do what Roy says.

Michael

February 25th, 2011
11:28 am

A 3.5 at Tech is near impossible. Better get more little old ladies to the lottery store.

teacher&mom

February 25th, 2011
11:28 am

Mr. Barnes is correct. My son will lose HOPE but we can, and will, be able to pay for his college education through a combination of student loans, personal savings account, and old fashioned budgeting.

His best friend and roommate, will not be able to finish. His parents make up a group we often forget to mention on this blog…..the working poor….the group that HOPE was designed to help.

extremerightwing

February 25th, 2011
11:29 am

the problem with HOPE is that the initial bar was set to low regarding grades. SAT and GPA should be factored in when deciding who gets HOPE.

but here is the bigger issue….HOPE is a great idea, but like so many liberal ideas the rub comes when you have to pay for it…and when you have politicians whose rehiring is based on how many benefits they can provide to the voter which is not the role of government.

if we are going to offer a scholly program then it’s open to all if you qualify.

some on here are saying if you make too much money then you don’t qualify. i’ll go along with that when we have everybody in this state paying a minimum income tax and we end welfare and other gov’t subsidies. ’bout time hard workers are rewarded with something!

Bill

February 25th, 2011
11:30 am

Old Timer,
Take a look at these programs. Pell pays only a small portion, and it it the only significant need based program left. For 30 years, in order to raise their student “profile”, public universities have been shifting from need based to merit based aid. The result is that now, families in the highest 20% income level get more aid than those in the lowest 20%.

JF McNamara

February 25th, 2011
11:31 am

Springdale Park Elementary Parent,

Punish the rich…LOL. So instead of punishing the rich, we help them out by bending rules to benefit them? Its been proven over and over again that those from affluent families have higher test scores. It doesn’t mean rich people’s kids are smarter, it just means they have had the environment and means to have a complete, well rounded education.

Secondly, the income cap will actually help the affluent far more than it would hurt them. If you are a business owner, CEO, or high ranking employee in your company, having a more educated employee base helps your company grow. If we stagnate the pipeline of talent in Georgia, our companies won’t be able to compete globally. The affluent are only as good as those who are on their staffs.

I’m sure you’re great because you’re rich and its all your doing or whatever, but if Georgia is short on college grads 20 years from now, companies will be leaving here along with the high paying job that you have. Your small business will do worse as those companies leave. Its all interconnected. If you don’t help the poor become educated, we’re doomed in a technology driven economy. Nobody is hiring factory workers anymore. That’s all in China.

Bill

February 25th, 2011
11:31 am

Extreme right,
People in minimum wage jobs often work very hard. I think your characterization that people in high income brackets work harder is both inaccurate and insulting.

justdhoo

February 25th, 2011
11:32 am

As a soon to be Georgia Tech graduate this change is ridiculous for Tech students. I have done well recently and my GPA is the highest it has ever been, a 3.5. This is right on the border for graduating with HIGHEST honors (3.55). I agree with 3.7 in high school because most students who don’t have a 3.7 in high school aren’t going to keep HOPE long in college anyway. But a 3.5 punishes students who want to challenge themselves by going to a more difficult institution. A 3.5 at Tech is like a 3.9 at any other college in Georgia. I think that this change in HOPE combined with the expansion of UGA’s engineering school is really going to hurt Georgia Tech because now students will have to decide if going to Tech is worth the strong possibility of losing HOPE, and that’s a lot of money to risk.

WE lost our way

February 25th, 2011
11:32 am

I agree with Roy 100%.The only change I recommend is to make it a reimbursement program. Make the 3.2 or higher and you get refunded for the semester.If not,it’s out of your pocket(or parents).

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

February 25th, 2011
11:33 am

@Maureen: let’s accept your $30,000/4 years cost as accurate. $30,000 in low-interest student loans vs. a college degree which gives you a 250% increase in lifetime earning potential and a ticket out of a lifetime in the service industries….

If you’re smart enough to go to college, you’re smart enough to figure out that this $30,000 investment in your future is a no-brainer.

The “progressive” model of making things 100% free for “underprivileged” people in fact is a slow poison that kills initiative and self-reliance.

You know who really wants to help these kids? ME. I want to bulldoze their crappy public schools, give them a chance to attend a quality school run by a community of caring people (not municipal employees); hold the parents of those kids 100% accountable for the child’s performance, and then reward those kids who stick it out with a college education (which they’ll contribute to by working and with readily available loans and grants).

You can’t wait for Superman and his Super Checkbook. Sometimes, you have to be your own Superman. That’s the lesson we’re failing to teach.

Bill

February 25th, 2011
11:35 am

Urban Legend,
I don’t know who you have been talking to, but that is not how Pell works. A Pell grant has a maximum of about $5500 per year. Once tuition, fees, books, and room and board are paid, any amount left over from Pell goes to the student for day to day expenses. A year at a Georgia University is $15-$20k. Do the math.