Gov. Deal: One step closer to protecting HOPE

Here is Gov. Nathan Deal’s official statement on the House vote today on his HOPE bill:

In an overwhelming and bipartisan 152-22 vote, the Georgia House today passed Gov. Nathan Deal’s HOPE bill after including the governor’s amendment that would make it easier for Zell Miller Scholars to keep their full benefit package.

“Members of the House have worked with me in a bipartisan way to strengthen this bill even further,” Deal said. “The legislative process is working effectively. We’ve put together the right piece of legislation that keeps our programs among the most generous in the nation while placing them on firm financial footing. Today, we are one step closer to ensuring that HOPE endures for Georgia’s best and brightest and pre-k continues to prepare 4-year-old Georgians for educational excellence.”

Deal credited Speaker David Ralston’s leadership for building a broad coalition of support for the legislation. Nearly every Republican in the House and two-thirds of Democrats voted yes.

“This is a realistic and sensible approach to preserve HOPE for today and tomorrow’s young Georgians,” said House Speaker David Ralston. “I applaud Governor Deal for taking action and leading on one of the most important issues the General Assembly will address this year because doing nothing was not an option.”

The House worked with the governor to lower the GPA minimum that Zell Miller Scholars must maintain while in college to maintain the full benefit package. Under the House-passed legislation, Zell Miller Scholars must keep at least a 3.3 grade point average, as opposed to the 3.5 requirement in the original bill. Deal wanted to bring the standards more closely in line with the honors program requirements at our state’s major research institutions.

“We want to do everything we can to keep Georgia’s best and brightest in school with the full benefit package, while still creating incentives for students to work hard and go above and beyond.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

31 comments Add your comment


March 1st, 2011
2:37 pm

Maureen, Everything I read concerning HOPE speaks to the HOPE Scholarship. How will this bill affect the HOPE Grant which is used primarily in the Technical College environment? Thanks.

Inman Park Boy

March 1st, 2011
2:41 pm

Go after the high schols with inflated grades. Any kid with a 3.0 or higher high school GPA average who also scores <1100 on the Reading/Math portion of the SAT, or under 22 on the ACT should cause RED LIGHTS to go off.

Maureen Downey

March 1st, 2011
2:50 pm

@EduPoli, There is now a GPA requirement for the HOPE Grant: Here is the language from the bill:

Meet achievement standards by having a grade point average of at least 3.0 at
the point that the student has accumulated 30 semester or 45 quarter hours of courses
towards a diploma or certificate for which the student received HOPE funds pursuant to
this part. The grade point average shall be calculated using such 30 semester or 45
quarter hours taken pursuant to this subsection.

And here is another change:

No student that has a baccalaureate degree, its equivalent or higher, from any
postsecondary institution shall be eligible to receive a HOPE grant


March 1st, 2011
3:12 pm

Any link to the actual vote, Maureen? I would like to see which representatives voted yes or no.

Maureen Downey

March 1st, 2011
3:24 pm

@Dan, Today’s votes are not posted yet, but you can see the list here from this session. If you click on the vote number on the far left, it will take you to the actual votes by legislator:

Hey Teacher

March 1st, 2011
3:24 pm

Deal jumped the gun on making these changes without enough debate, or attempting to explore other ways of making budget. The decision to cut back on this program should have taken longer than a few weeks given the impact it will have on students at both the Pre-K and university level. Allowing alcohol sales on Sunday has been debated for YEARS and never gone anywhere, yet education is given what … an afternoon? Very disappointing. I’m not impressed.

Pre-K Teacher

March 1st, 2011
4:08 pm

How will the changes to Pre-K be dealt with for public school teachers?

Pre-K Teacher

March 1st, 2011
4:29 pm

Is this the version that passed? If so, I’m not seeing anything on pre-K.


March 1st, 2011
4:42 pm

It appears as if they are not done debating Pre-K and haven’t voted on it yet. Many Bright From the Start (DECAL) officials are trying to make various proposals to make it a better, more thoughtful plan that won’t be as detrimental to students and teachers. However, my bets are placed that Deal will find a way to pass it through asap. He wants to hurry up and get this over with. Many legislators, both Republican and Democrat, have responded to my emails by shrugging it off with a “well what else can we do, the money’s not there” type of attitude. They only care about their own paychecks. They don’t care about teachers. One thing is for sure, Deal won’t be getting too many votes from Pre-K teachers when he is up for re-election.


March 1st, 2011
4:44 pm

Hey Teacher- VERY well said. I say let’s sell alcohol on Sundays and give that extra revenue to Pre-K and Hope.


March 1st, 2011
5:30 pm

1) Is there any sort of grandfather clause for students already in enrolled in college?

2) Could a student with 3.3 in college?

3) Is the high school GPA requirement weighted or unweighted?

Pre-K Teacher

March 1st, 2011
5:51 pm

CG-Thank you, and I know he is very close to losing my vote. How will the changes to Pre-K since they were not part of the 326 bill? Will they be in another bill or what?


March 1st, 2011
8:39 pm

Well, great. My representative is supposed to hold a town hall this weekend to discuss this, and they’ve already voted on it. What’s the point??

gatech student

March 1st, 2011
9:37 pm


There is no grandfather clause in the bill for students already enrolled in college, which is completely unfair. While I agree that something must be done about HOPE in order to save money, it is completely unreasonable to not include a grandfather clause. Students already in college already have grades, we do not have the advantage of a “clean slate” nor do we have any time to consider alternative financing plans for our education. We have worked hard with the expectations that a 3.0 would get us full tuition, and that promise should be fulfilled. It is fine to change the requirements for students thinking about college who can factor these requirements into their college choice, figure out a payment plan based on these requirements, and know the requirements first, but to change it for students who already have the scholarship is unacceptable.


March 1st, 2011
9:43 pm

So a difference of .3 in your gpa is going to determine whether you receive 90 percent or 100 percent tuition??? This just gets more ridiculous every day. And how can you take away 10 percent tuition benefit from a sophmore, junior or senior college student based on high school gpa and sat score requirements set years after they graduated???? There’s gotta be a better way. Why not increase the price of a darn lottery ticket or cap payouts? Why punish the students?


March 1st, 2011
9:48 pm

Lets all do our part to give Deal a nice “deal” on an early retirement from politics.


March 1st, 2011
10:32 pm

The recipients of the Hope Grant who will now have a 3.0 GPA requirement could be the real losers in the bill unless careful consideration of how the rules will be applied is given. Currently enrolled students did not have that requirement when they entered the technical college and will find themselves with the possibility of immediately losing Hope if they do not have a 3.0 GPA after completing spring quarter. While the Hope Scholarship recipients have demonstrated academic success in high school in order to qualify for Hope, the Hope Grant was designed to give all Georgians the opportunity to enhance their employment skills by completing a diploma or certificate at the technical colleges. The students who benefit from the Hope Grant are not degree seeking students. No previous academic record was considered when providing the Grant although recipients had to maintain a satisfactory academic record to keep the Hope Grant (2.0 GPA). To immediately remove the Hope Grant from these students would be most unfortunate and many of these students could not complete their certificate or diploma without great hardship….many are unemployed, displaced workers attempting to gain new skills for employment. The only fair way to apply the new 3.0 GPA requirement for Hope Grant recipients is to apply the rule to new students enrolling in the technical colleges this fall. The removal of fees and book allowance and the 90 percent tuition components are certainly in line with the Hope Scholarship changes and should apply to Hope Grant recipients as well. Technical college students will be willing to share the responsibility for keeping the Hope program on solid ground….but should be treated fairly in the process.


March 2nd, 2011
4:58 am

Just to be clear, If I’m already enrolled in college and have a 3.7 GPA, will I continue to get 100% from the Hope Scholarship?

College Student

March 2nd, 2011
9:37 am

I definitely won’t be getting it full now despite my 3.6 in college because of my high school GPA wasn’t good enough.


March 2nd, 2011
11:45 am

What about this: Check the GPA at the end of EVERY term. That would cut out those who “ride” HOPE for an extra term or two before they are “caught” by the GPA requirement. And cut it to one reinstatement at the 60 hour level. No need for HOPE light then, or HOPE superduty, either. That cumulative 3.0 at any hour level, at the end of any term, would take care of the overspending on HOPE!!


March 2nd, 2011
12:09 pm

Perhaps it’s time for Georgia’s state institutions to reduce the incredible price of a collegiate education?

God forbid universities actually reduce costs.

ATLER ( Atlanta is The state's lifeline!!!!!!!!!

March 2nd, 2011
12:16 pm

Rep. David Lucas, D-Macon, noted that most lottery tickets are sold in lower-income neighborhoods.

“But under [House Bill] 326, the majority of that money is going to an elite club,”


March 2nd, 2011
12:38 pm

The protesters shown don’t look so young (fresh out of high school)!

What's best for kids?

March 2nd, 2011
12:47 pm

Lots of administrative costs in this. It would have been easier and less expensive to make it a reimbursement plan.

sad but true

March 2nd, 2011
1:11 pm

“It would have been easier and less expensive to make it a reimbursement plan.”

They would still find a way to run up the costs to manage that (refunds) as well. I agree with your idea though. Prove you can maintain the grades for reimbursement OR if you loose HOPE based on the criteria you have to pay back a certain portion or percentage.

I have heard many thoughtful provisions from citizens (not lawmakers )that should have been enacted at the onset of HOPE. What we have now is widespread, unchecked abuses across the board that have crippled the program.

Cap it....

March 2nd, 2011
1:16 pm

Is there no consideration being given to bringing back the income cap because those are also the biggest political donors?

Warren Buffett

March 2nd, 2011
2:32 pm

“Is there no consideration being given to bringing back the income cap”

NO! My heirs will have to build their own wealth and I am not financially responsible for them after they leave for college.

Albert Bodamer

March 2nd, 2011
5:02 pm

They moved in the right direction with the 3.3 to maintain, but I still take issue with the 3.7 High School GPA requirement because:
1) if you take Algebra & Geometry in Middle School, these clases are not counted toward your HOPE GPA;
2) B’s in a GPA cannot be offset to the extent that they should when the 0.5 bump is not allowed for in AP classes where an A has been earned–this, in effect, is a penalty for taking harder classes;
3) The maximum that a Georgia Tech Distance Calculus grade can contribute is a 4.0 vs. a 4.5; and
4) it’s retroactive for existing college students and high school seniors who cannot travel back in time to improve their HS GPAs.

Watch what the (unintended?) consequence will be: the majority of those with the highest scholarship offered will be attending the least challenging institutions in the State.


March 2nd, 2011
11:08 pm

shouldnt they have least took some time to look this over and discuss all options? what did they do discuss this over a 30 minute lunch date and vote yes so far? if this does pass, i dont know what is going to happen to my education. i depend on hope all the way. im the first in my family to go to college and i want to continue my education but if this cut happens i dont know what im going to do. they should consider every detail of this. and the lottery didnt make enough this year to support HOPE??….maybe they should look at all the stores that have these gambling machines in them….thats where the lottery’s money is going…i understand having a limitation on GPA’s but .3 difference is crazy…and if they cut Pre-K what are parents that go to school and work going to do? additional stress on arranging more childcare for the rest of the day….PUT YOURSELF IN SOMEONE ELSES SHOES!!!!!


March 2nd, 2011
11:16 pm

did anyone think of putting the income cap back in progress this year and re-evaluate this problem next year? why is right that some fellow students who come from familys that earn $140,000 anually and their parents provide them with cars that cost more than my tuition get the same HOPE support that I get? If their parents can afford to pay $20,000 or more for a car shouldnt they be able to pay that for their children’s education?

Maureen Downey

March 3rd, 2011
6:04 pm

@AJ: Only if you had a 3.7 GPA in high school and at least 1200 on the SAT, and then a 3.3 all through college, under the change made the other day.
But you have to have the high school criteria.