The politics of HOPE

(Folks, This piece I wrote runs on the Monday education page, paired with this column by Gov. Nathan Deal.)

The debate in the Legislature over the HOPE scholarship changes provoked many dramatic speeches, but the most personal was delivered by state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna.

Evans is the exact student that Gov. Zell Miller, a son of hardscrabble Georgia, envisioned when he launched HOPE in 1994. Growing up in Ringgold to parents who labored in carpet mills, Evans was smart, but poor. She was not raised in a household that read the classics or discussed poetry around the table. Still, she graduated in the top 10 percent of her class.

Despite her accomplishments, Evans today would not qualify for the full HOPE funding that enabled her to attend the University of  Georgia.

And that’s  because she barely broke a 1,000 on the SAT.

“Hard work can get you a higher GPA, but hard work will not always get you a higher SAT,” Evans said. “I could not make up what I didn’t have 18 years sitting around the dinner table talking. You cannot dream what you don’t know.”

Full HOPE — now the Zell Miller scholarship — goes only to students with a 3.7 grade point average and at least a 1,200 on the 1,600-scale SAT.

Students with a 3.0 high school GPA earn HOPE Lite, which will pay about 90 percent of tuition next year but possibly far less in the future if demand increases. HOPE no longer covers any books or fees

SAT scores correlate with the income and educational attainment of a student’s parents, which is why poor teens, whether rural or urban, fall below more affluent suburban counterparts.

In fact, there are swaths of rural Georgia where no students in the top ranks of their classes would have qualified for the full HOPE under the original plan proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal. To prevent a rural revolt, full HOPE now also goes to each high school’s valedictorian and salutatorian so at least two students in a county get it.

A 2003 graduate of the University of Georgia Law School, Evans suggested a sliding income scale for HOPE that would ensure students from Georgia’s poorest families continued to receive full tuition.

Using Georgia State University as an example, she said students who receive only HOPE Lite next year will have to come up with $1,800 to cover their costs or $35 a week.

“It may not sound like that much, but I remember when I was in middle school visiting a friend who was more affluent and her mother said she needed money to run to the store,” Evans said.

“Without thinking, her father pulled $40 out his wallet and gave it to her. That was so much money to me that I thought how can anyone just pull $40 out of their wallet? We have little girls growing up in Ringgold who are going to be hurt by these cuts.”

Evans’ efforts met with defeat, as did another Democratic proposal to impose a $140,000 income cap on HOPE recipients, which would have protected about 94 percent of current HOPE students.

State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, attempted to persuade rural lawmakers with data showing how the cap would have no impact in many of their counties since no one earned more than $140,000.

He thought he was gaining ground until the governor summoned the Republican caucus to the mansion for 4:30 p.m. cocktails and arm twisting.

“He told them that they had to support his plan, that this was his signature legislation,” said Carter.

Nor could Democrats win support for a plan to expand full HOPE to the top 3 percent of high school seniors, which would have enabled more low-income rural and urban high school graduates to qualify by eliminating the SAT component. (Of the 15,000 African-American students in Georgia who took the SAT last year, only 2.7 percent scored 1,200 or higher.)

That doesn’t mean Democrats won no concessions in the battle over HOPE. Deal’s willingness to fund a 1 percent needs-based loan program, pay for remedial classes for HOPE grant recipients and restore full-day pre-k led House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams to not only vote for the governor’s bill, but to stand with Deal as he  announced and signed it.

Still, while House Minority leader Abrams supported the bill because it was the will of her Democratic caucus, state Rep. Abrams did not agree with it, she told a town hall meeting in Decatur last week.
“I am not naive. The governor wanted an African-American to stand with him and he wasn’t going to find one in the Senate,” she said.

Abrams used her bargaining power to help persuade the governor to restore pre-k to full day, calling it an “incredible win for rural Georgia. What did we expect parents of  4-year-olds to do with their children at noon when  they worked an hour away?”

What about imposing income caps on families applying for pre-k, someone at the town hall meeting asked.

Abrams said Deal refused to consider income caps for HOPE or pre-k, noting, “We might like him better than Sonny Perdue, but he’s still a Republican.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog.

88 comments Add your comment

[...] The politics of HOPEAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The debate in the Legislature over the HOPE scholarship changes provoked many dramatic speeches, but the most personal was delivered by state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna. Evans is the exact student that Gov. Zell Miller, a son of hardscrabble Georgia, …and more » [...]


March 20th, 2011
7:16 am

Has former Governor and Senator Zell Miller made any statements about the Hope Scholarship, specifically to the fiscal problems and the changes that were finalized?

Mid GA Retiree

March 20th, 2011
7:23 am

As I understand that HOPE law, a certain percentage of lotter proceeds is used for education, a certain percentage goes to administration and a certain percentage goes for prizes. If that is the case, why can’t the law be amended to adjust those percentages? If the law doesn’t set percentages for proceeds, then it should. This might stop some of the outrageous bonuses that lottery officials have received in the past.


March 20th, 2011
9:01 am

Vouchers may be the only answer to public education – specifically, COMPETITION in the market place! (Private schools, Home Schooling, Charter Schools, or Public Schools)

Until such time as parents and guardians have an option, we are not going to see real change in public schools. A growing number of our school boards appear to be totally impotent; our teachers seem to be incapable of standing up to intimidation by school administrators, their unions, — or parents in some cases; nationally, our scores continue to drop compared to our global competitors (i.e., Korea, Europe, and China); our schools of education appear weak in academic rigor (compared to global competitors); and, increasingly, our kids do not feel safe in our classrooms or buses in larger parts of the Country, with our school administrators seemingly void of leadership in dealing with ’social change’!

Education has increasingly become a JOBS PROGRAM, as evidenced by what has happened in Madison the past three weeks, what is happening in Maryland now, and those it attracts leaves a lot to be desired (sad examples of lying, fraud and deceit in some cases — i.e. Atlanta Public School System). The recent sophomoric brouhaha in Madison (and about to happen here) will strongly suggest the NEED for FREEDOM AND CHOICE to parents becoming responsible for their kids education!

Vouchers will force competition!

*Year round school will evolve — and possibly, some systems will find the opportunity to dropping the ‘12th’ grade as some of our global competitors have already accomplished.

*New and innovative delivery methods will evolve using current and future technologies (busing kids at 6 – 6:30AM may even cease!)

*What goes in a child’s stomach will become the business of a parent, not an unknown lunch person.

*Distance learning will emerge.

* Through COMPETITION, good schools will attract GOOD teachers; reduced indiscipline rates; increased graduation rates; increased scores; increased focus on the part of the students; and in the end, INCREASED SUCCESS OF KIDS!

*Math and science will be taught by certified math and science teachers with a passion for the subjects and academic rigor.

*And, in time, US kids will become MORE COMPETITIVE
The BIG QUESTION IS: Why have teacher’s unions not kept up with global competition for the past three decades; and what responsibility do they accept for the decline in American jobs — LOST TO OUR GLOBAL COMPETITORS??????

* Should see operations and maintenance COSTS DROP: (reduced costs in physical plants; maintenance costs; bus transportation; and sheer COMPETITION for academic EXCELLENCE).

*Education costs will prepare our kids to compete GLOBALLY!

If parents want to leave their kids in current public schools, then fine — that is their choice.

****If choice is such a wonderful thing for abortion, then why can it not be a wonderful thing for parents to choose for their child’s education?****


March 20th, 2011
9:13 am

It’s a myth that competition will improve education. Just a myth.


You say students with HOPE Lite will have to make up $1800, or $35 a week, but you are using 52 weeks to calculate the weekly cost. Given that a semester is 16 weeks, $56+ a week is a more appropriate figure.


March 20th, 2011
9:15 am

This was informative and somewhat heartwarming. As a Hope Scholar, I can’t begin to express my gratitude for this wonderful award, I wouldn’t have been able to attend or graduate from college without it. Although I am displeased with the changes to the scholarship, I’m glad some proposals were made such as the income cap; even though they were unsuccessful. It’s good to know some people still have some decency and compassion in this world.

Rural education

March 20th, 2011
9:17 am

School choice is a charade. The truth is that private schools don’t want vouchers if they then have to follow govt. Rules. The real goal of the “voucher” crowd in the state house is the destruction of public education. We would have a re-segregation of schools this time not just based on color, but also on social class.


March 20th, 2011
9:22 am

Stacey Evans represents why testing is bogus.

Less than 1000 on the SAT would demonstrate that her teachers were no good, yet she is now in a position of governmental power to make laws.

Obviously her teachers did nothing right in today’s teacher-bashing climate. She scored under 1000.

Congratulations, Stacey, on proving that these tests mean precious little in actual life ACHIEVEMENT.

And perhaps, she had some pretty good teachers after all.


March 20th, 2011
9:24 am

@GrannyCares, you’re right, market forces do impact education. When science and math teachers can make thousands a year more working in industry, it is hard to attract them to teach high school students, who in many areas really aren’t that interested in learning, or don’t have the backgrounds in reading and basic math to be successful in high school.

You’re right, schools of education frequently aren’t rigorous enough, and one reason is that (before the current downturn anyway) we generally had a shortage of teachers in many fields, and raising the standards for education schools would have exascerbated that shortage. Yes, market forces do work.

What goes in the stomach of a child can be the business of the parent now, and the child can bring his/her lunch, and some do. Others wouldn’t get breakfast or lunch without the school lunch program, unfortunately, but I don’t suppose you would mind.

I could go on, but this really has nothing to do with the topic. By the way, THERE ARE NO TEACHERS’ UNIONS IN GEORGIA. If there were, perhaps we’d have better teaching conditions and be better able to attract a surplus of teaching candidates.


March 20th, 2011
9:32 am

An income cap, for both Pre-K and the HOPE scholarship, would have been entirely appropriate.

@Mid-Georgia Retiree, there are “suggestions” for how lottery proceeds should be spent in the original lottery legislation, but no mandates. The Lottery Corporation has not contributed the “suggested” percentage for education for over a decade, yet has continued to pay large bonuses. This should have been addressed in this year’s legislation.

David Hoffman

March 20th, 2011
9:36 am

Too many African-Americans in Georgia want the HOPE Scholarship to be a welfare entitlement. The HOPE Scholarship has several simultaneous goals. Number one is to state loudly and clearly that the legal adult voting citizens of Georgia want the best Georgia educated high school students to stay in the state of Georgia and attend Georgia’s colleges and universities for their college and university learning. We do not care how wealthy your parents are or are not. The goal is academic excellence. We are rewarding excellence, not mere attendance. Grade inflation has destroyed the HOPE scholarship program financially, by allowing persons who clearly are not outstanding scholars to get the scholarship. Outstanding Pupils do NOT need remedial classes. The HOPE scholarship would be sitting on a huge reserve fund if true academic excellence had been the only thing rewarded. Since we cannot trust the grades given by the schools, we needed to implement an independent third party evaluation, SAT or ACT, to filter out the non scholars from the HOPE awards process. The problems Georgia’s African-American students have in attaining academic excellence have many varied causes. The number one cause is giving birth to children you cannot afford. The African-American women of this state have got to deal with this. Abstinence, abortion, or adoption. Pick one, two, or all three. Stop having babies that you do not need. Reduce the burden on the school system, so that those that are able to afford children do not have to deal with reduced school resources. You know those kids whose only interest is gang banging, hip hopping, rapping, step dancing, and creating trouble use up a lot of resources that could go to the children that are real students. The you will see smaller classes, less disruptions in school. and more HOPE Scholarships, because the trouble makers do NOT exist. An added benefit is that the gangs will have less poor children to use as lookouts, bag holders, and couriers. Eventually all the adult gangbangers will have is each other. Adult gangsters can be legally killed or put into federal prison far away from their aunties, mommas, and other apologists and enablers. Improves the neighborhood even more.


March 20th, 2011
9:49 am

Thanks Maureen for writing this piece. As the parent of a college student who will now only receive HOPE lite (since she didn’t graduate with a 3.7 from high school but did have 1310SAT) even though she currently has a 3.6GPA at UGA, I am appreciative of the changes the Dems tried to make to the bill. I HOPE the Republicans who pushed this through obscenely fast are getting an earful from all of their unhappy constituents and they feel it in the next election.


March 20th, 2011
9:53 am

@David – Then explain why (since “The goal is academic excellence. We are rewarding excellence, not mere attendance.”) college students weren’t grandfathered in; why they also have to abide by the 3.7 high school GPA 1200 SAT when they have already graduated and are proving themselves HOPE worthy by their college GPA?


March 20th, 2011
10:07 am

@Granny – if vouchers are so good, why have they been declared unconstitutional or voted out by voters in every state where that opportunity has become available. Until we start looking at what high performing schools are doing and replicate it, we will not improve all schools. Until we solve the major underlying problem of poverty, we cannot improve all schools. It’s no surprise that if you look at income levels on a map and overlay it with school districts, the high performing schools are nearly all in high income areas. I’m sorry, but until a child is not hungry, and wondering if there will be a hot dinner at home that night, it is difficult to properly educate that child.

Dr. John Trotter

March 20th, 2011
10:23 am

This is why I voted for Roy Barnes for Governor this go around, and you know what a big critic I was of Roy Barnes when he messed with teachers in 2000. If Republicans had a heart and Democrats had a brain, we might be O. K. I know that recent events surrounding HOPE, etc., has ole Zell spittin’ nickels.

Jordan Kohanim

March 20th, 2011
10:32 am

ssteacher made a great point that needs to be repeated:
“tacey Evans represents why testing is bogus.

Less than 1000 on the SAT would demonstrate that her teachers were no good, yet she is now in a position of governmental power to make laws.

Obviously her teachers did nothing right in today’s teacher-bashing climate. She scored under 1000.

Congratulations, Stacey, on proving that these tests mean precious little in actual life ACHIEVEMENT.

And perhaps, she had some pretty good teachers after all.”

Amen, ssteacher!

Cast the old teachers out

March 20th, 2011
10:35 am

No reasons for tens of thousands of African Americans to play Cash 3 and Cash 4 in Georgia thank goodness. My mother and all of her elderly friends have stopped and once the kids begin to feel the pinch and the texting and Facebook messages begin, she’ll need more than triples to fund it. Less than 3% score 1200 on the SAT… according to those stats then, 97% of African American college graduates will be ineligible for a full Hope Scholarship. Sounds about right for the good ole Southern state of Georgia.
A little while ago, an earthquake and Tsunami destroyed parts of Japan. At least 10,000 people probably lost their lives. There was a lesson there. Nature doesn’t give a darn about test scores. It does not discriminate. It took out poor Undereducated Haiti and then highly educated Japan and it didn’t blink. “Ye shall reap what you sow.”. Might be something in that message for Georgia.

Cast the old teachers out

March 20th, 2011
10:38 am

Correction…”high school graduates”

David Hoffman

March 20th, 2011
10:40 am

Mid GA Retiree, the lottery legislation specified that to the greatest extent possible up to 35% of gross revenues were to go the education fund. The law also emphasized that the lottery was to maximize the yearly dollar amounts going to the education fund. Surprisingly these are goals in conflict with each other. If the Georgia lottery was run according to the strictest interpretation of the law, then several things would be in existence and many would not. First the lottery would be 100% pure parimutuel. There would be no prizes for getting some of the numbers picked. 35% of each ticket would go to the education fund. The prize would be 50% of the total tickets sold. You would split the prize among all those who picked all numbers. So if the prize was $400,000,000 and 40 people had picked all the numbers, each would get $10,000,000. All other players would get nothing. There would be no scratch off tickets. There would be no connection to multistate player games like PowerBall. Sounds great. But then the mentality of gamblers comes into play. Gamblers come in many variations. Some are willing to deal with the pure parimutuel game I described and will play repeatedly. Some will get bored with that and stop buying tickets. So you create an array of changing parimutuel games to play. Some will be disappointed in the low prize amount from just one small state and will stop playing. You create multistate games for them with bigger jackpots. Some need instant results, so you create scratch-off tickets. Some need to be enticed with trinkets of prizes to keep buying, so you create prizes for matching some numbers. Yes that is what those ridiculous $5, $50, $500, $5,000, and $50,000 prizes are for in PowerBall. They are the equivalent of the pens/coffee cups/Tshirts/hats/bumper stickers/televisions/vacations that companies give away to get you to buy a significant amount of their product. They are advertising, branding, buzz, and word of mouth operations.

The point is that to maximize annual revenue the Georgia Lottery Corporation has discovered what the Las Vegas casinos learned long ago. You have to create the illusion of lots of winners to get the most annual revenue. So instead of getting $35,000,000 for education each year, which is 35% of $100,000,000 per year, we get $75,000,000 each year, which is 25% of $300,00,000 per year. I would rather have the $75,000,000 than the $35,000,000. In reality we got about $850,000,000 dollars instead of about $397,000,000. If the GLC paid a 1% bonus to staff for the extra revenue, that would be about $4,500,000. So for an investment of $4,500,000 you get $448,500,000 extra dollars. That is about what the bonuses paid out were. That would be considered fantastic in the rest of the private sector. The HOPE Scholarship was NOT in financial trouble because of the bonuses paid to the GLC staff. It was in trouble because students who were NOT outstanding pupils got scholarships.


March 20th, 2011
10:43 am

“Growing up in Ringgold to parents who labored in carpet mills, Evans was smart, but poor. She was not raised in a household that read the classics or discussed poetry around the table. Still, she graduated in the top 10 percent of her class.

Despite her accomplishments, Evans today would not qualify for the full HOPE funding that enabled her to attend the University of Georgia.

And that’s because she barely broke a 1,000 on the SAT”

This is just a emotional crap to tug at the heart strings of the liberals and African Americans and to tell them the mean rich Republicans continue to try to hold them down.

I have two nieces, whose parents were Chinese immigrants and ran a Chinese restaurant, who had worst conditions than the example above. They were basically raised, because of the work hours of the parents, by a nanny that did not speak English (parents still do not speak English well). The oldest did not even start to school until 1st grade.

They both worked hard in school (mostly on their own because parents had to work and did not even graduate HS), and finished HS with over a 4.0 GPA. One is currently a Senior at Cornell in some type of herd accounting major with a 3.9 GPA and the other is a Junior at GT in industrial engineering with a 4.0. They both made over a 1300 on the SAT.

Here are the differences. Neither received a Drivers licenses until after they graduated from HS, neither were allowed to date in HS, neither had TV’s in their bedroom or cellphones and they were expected to read and study for at least 2 hours per night and on the weekends. One was in the band in HS and the other ran cross country.

This is not about the sociable/economic conditions and not even about the smartness of the parents. This is about the parents setting the standard that education is the one and only priority for a child. Nothing else is allowed to interfere with this goal. Education is not going to change in this country until we have this type of a cultural change of attitude with the parents.

Cast the old teachers out

March 20th, 2011
10:44 am

Black students do not take out loans. Do not make the banking industry that foreclosed on so many homes richer. Call Immigration and go out and get a Construction job. Go work in the hotels. Take back those low paying jobs and expose those employers who are breaking laws. Work hard for $7.25/hour. There is something very wrong with this message or is there?

Dr. John Trotter

March 20th, 2011
10:56 am

I doubt that any of my children will even use HOPE. My daughter attended a private university outside of Georgia. My oldest son will be attending a private university outside of Georgia (football scholarship), and my youngest son informs me that he wants to attend Juliard (what?!$). But, I don’t get so upset because I don’t play the lottery. Ha!

Some changes to HOPE obviously had to be made. But, it appears to me that the changes will result in a lot of poor folks financing the college costs of wealthier families. Some means test might be in order. I think that the intention of HOPE in the beginning was to offer “hope” for any kid who worked his or her butt off in school and yet was not a member of the “lucky sperm club.” His or her parents simply did not have means to send him or her to college. The HOPE Scholarship would provide him or her with the hope to attend college, and this hope would spur the kid on to be more motivated in academics. The HOPE Scholarship was never intended to be an “entitlement” for the wealthy.

This brings us to grade inflation. No doubt about it, the HOPE Scholarship brought about grade inflation. No doubt. I have seen kids “earn” a B average in the Core Curriculum when they were not smart enough to pour pee pee out of a boot. Well…let’s just say that they were not college material, and they “lost their hope” (I always thought this phrase was ironic) almost immediately. So, in light of this, perhaps a minimum score on the SAT is also in order. I can’t see a kid barely scratching 750 or 800 on the SAT getting the HOPE Scholarship. This kid would probably never finish college. Let’s face it. Most of our kids do not finish college. In fact, our dropout rate pushes toward 40% now.

So, this is my view. A little bit of financial means testing as well as a minimum score on the SAT (to fight grade inflation) would probably have worked. But, Republican did not want any financial means test, and the Democrats did not want to put a minimum on the SAT. The results look a little ridiculous. Instead of calling the full recipients “Zell Mill Scholars,” perhaps they should have named them “John D. Rockefeller Scholars.” Ha!

If I don’t hurry, I’ll be late to the Noon service at church! Y’all have fun!


March 20th, 2011
10:57 am

Remember people it was the rural counties in Georgia who voted for Deal. Their mantra of less government is just an illusion, until education is put back into the hands of good parents and educator, the pawns in this chess game will always be the children. In the past decade the school boards have only been interested in furthering their own agenda, the fraud and rampant cheating has made public schools persona non gratia, which is exactly what the big money coffers want to happen, “private-vs-public” etc, etc. Once again I will say if you have not had challenging courses in math and english it will be virtually impossible to achieve a good score on the SAT. Perhaps students should take the PSAT first, this will give them an idea of what the SAT is like. When I was in high-school in the 70’s we had guidance counselor who helped chart are course before any college entrance exam was attempted. I don’t think the SAT will good the way of the 8-track anytime soon, so it may be time for the student to either get on board or charter another course. Maybe a universities that doesn’t require SAT or ACT.

David Hoffman

March 20th, 2011
10:59 am

concerned, this is what happens when you ignore the warnings about unqualified students getting scholarships. The fund went and used up most of the reserves. The governor is desperate to save money, so he marked with a spray can instead of a finepoint pen and used a hatchet instead of a scalpel. I do not agree with the use of the new standards for existing college students or existing senior high school students. They have no way to change their past academic performance. In war, we call this collateral damage. In the medical field it is called triage. Sometimes you loose some of the ones you might have saved. The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few. The governor is trying to keep the HOPE scholarship available for many students in the future, so he sacrificed several students today. If we had done our duty years ago, to weed out the undeserving, we would not be in the mess we are in today.


March 20th, 2011
11:22 am

@td.. I must say you hit the nail on the head. In the apartments where I live, the kids never seem to have a homework time they are always running around , loitering in the corridors or getting into mayhem. Most are either black or hispanic, the few asian kids are better mannered and more studious, they also seem more focus because the only time I ever see them outside is on the weekend. Sadly the same black and hispanic kids are the ones I see getting on the bus going to summer school. In my opinion if these kids were dedicated to schoolwork like they are when it comes to texting, we would have alot more literate students. Kids have to much time on their hands and alas its not being used wisely.

V. Powell

March 20th, 2011
11:43 am

Graduating with a 3.7 GPA to get a HOPE scholarship is nearly impossible. The lower the number of students receiving HOPE will make more money available for administration. Is this the goal, one would have to ask.


March 20th, 2011
12:23 pm

Thanks for sharing Representative Evans story because it rings true for most Georgians, black, white and Latino. Too bad the governor and most legislators don’t seem to care.


March 20th, 2011
1:01 pm

The most disappointing thing of this whole process is not the shameful defense of for-profit colleges by a democrat (Rep. Abrams), it is the lack of leadership in doing what is right vs. what is popular. The best approach is to use GPA, SAT and class ranking (two out of three criteria) as proposed by Maureen. It is simple and straightforward. The only downside is that it will eliminate many people from being eligible for any money. There are essentially two choices: reducing the number of awards or reducing amount of each award for everyone so that everyone gets some. The changes Republican made to give HOPE-full to the best students are good but not enough. The HOPE-some will eventually become HOPE-less. Democrats’ effort to reduce the number by income cap is misguided good intention and reflects its traditional value. Republicans’ effort to give everyone HOPE-some contradicts its advertised value of encouraging success and hard work. At the end of day, Republicans just want to be popular, in this case, to please the most people. This smells like socialism.


March 20th, 2011
1:01 pm

How much money is it going to cost the State BOE to research which students scored the 3.7 GPA and the 1200 SAT? My daughter graduated with a class of 430 kids and it is a 5A school in suburban Atlanta. There were 68 (not 43) in the top 10% because they did the figuring from the 680 who started day one 9th grade. One new high school opened their 9th grade year. And another new high school opened their 10th grade year. That combined with the transfers to those two new schools, drop outs, transfers to home school based schools (there are 2 or 3 in our county), and private schools that was 250 kids who left. So, how many high school(HOPE scholars) and college students are they going to have to do research on to figure out who receives the full “Zell Miller Scholarship” or the HOPE Lite?


March 20th, 2011
1:10 pm

@ David Hoffman and Ashley,

Why do you think a SAT requirement is not a part of requirement for HOPE-some? GA is a ONE-Party state. Republicans get whatever it wants. Perhaps this will help your thinking process: students from rural areas are doing poorly in SAT: several counties in GA do not have any students scoring over 1200 in SAT. Whom do you think people in rural areas vote for, Democrats or Republicans?


March 20th, 2011
2:02 pm

So she would still qualify for HOPE Lite? And because her parents were so poor, it’s likely she could apply for the Pell Grant.

Other than the current college students who will loose HOPE money they’d planned on, I fail to see what the big deal is here. Kids with low SAT scores went to college long before HOPE and they’ll continue to go – now with HOPE Lite (yes? no? Still not 100% clear to me). Some may need to take out loans and grants to cover other expenses, but that hardly seems like a crisis.


March 20th, 2011
2:03 pm

*lose. Hate it when I do that – and ssteacher had an excellent point.


March 20th, 2011
2:38 pm

Cutting HOPE from 100% to 90% shouldn’t make that much difference in being able to attend college. The old HOPE, yes, paid 100% of tuition, but only paid $150 toward fees and books, which usually run somewere between $600 – $800 per semester. Also, HOPE never paid anything towards room and board – which still will account for a major portion of the student’s expenses.

David Hoffman

March 20th, 2011
2:59 pm

GNGS, I know there is a SAT requirement for HOPE-Some.The rural schools are low in resources partially because of the K-12 funding mechanism used in the State of Georgia and many other states, local property taxes. If the state were to change the funding mechanism, the situation might get better for rural schools. All local property taxes for schools need to be eliminated. All local SPLOST for schools need to be eliminated. ALL private real estate(land, buildings, improvements, etc) needs to be taxed statewide at the same rate. The entire state needs a SSST(Special School Statewide Tax) that taxes all services and goods at the same rate. All the revenue from such taxes shall go to a common fund at the state level. The state shall give out to each county money for school operations. That money shall be only based on the number of children ages 5-17 who reside in a county. In other words, you take the total amount of money and divide by the number of children in the state Each county gets an amount equal to its student population. From that money given to each county ALL salaries, maintenance, busing, construction,land acquisitions, education, benefits, pensions, and contingency funds must be paid. You get what you get. The county cannot ask for more from local residents. The county is forbidden from using sneaky real estate valuations and taxes to generate more revenue for schools. All they can do is live within the funds they are given. This should result in a reduction in the number of counties creating RollsRoyce schools and should increase the number of counties operating functional Chevrolet schools instead of Found On Road Dead rusting broken schools. In addition the state needs to make it clear to Internet Service Providers that if by 2022 every community does not have serious affordable 100Mbps symmetrical High Speed Internet (HSI) access for every residence, the state will give a green light to county and city taxpayer funded Fiber To The Home projects. The purpose is to facilitate participatory distance learning anytime for anyone. With serious HSI, schools and families can take advantage of educational opportunities in the future from around the world anytime. If the private sector cannot do it then the government will. We are way behind in HSI availability and affordability.


March 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

@GNGS I am well aware that the SAT is a part of the HOPE requirement. My comments simply stated that most rural parts of Georgia voted for Deal. One of the main objective in education for the state of Georgia should be for all school regardless of whether they are rural, urban or metro to have internet capibility. This is not only in the best interest for all students ,but for the state as a whole. Since Deal went to a private university Mercer it seems that all private universities in the state will be getting a bigger slice of the HOPE Scholarship, or is this just a concidence. In a perfect world education for all would be on equal footing, but unfortunately whoever pays the bigger taxes gets a larger slice of the pie.

What's best for kids?

March 20th, 2011
3:32 pm

What some of you seem to forget is that we have QBE funding which takes from some of the higher tax bracketed counties and gives to the less taxed counties. QBE is broken because some of the “rural” counties are no longer rural, and some of the “wealthy” counties are no longer willing to tax themselves to pay for other counties. I don’t know the solution except to get rid of the antiquated system. If counties care about education, they will ensure that their children receive it.


March 20th, 2011
3:58 pm

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. **Quit calling it the HOPE Scholarship**

HOPE was originally for those w/out hope or prospects for a higher education. Any kind of education. If you have a 3.7GPA or 1200 or better SAT (old standard, now it’s higher from what I’ve heard), you’re probably not lacking for scholarships or the opportunity for a better education. HOPE was originally built for the working class so a person could operate CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) equipment rather than be the local paper boy. A dental tech vs the janitor.

I’ve got a niece who doesn’t bat an eye at poking holes (piercings) in other people or herself. She’s nineteen with a high school diploma – barely. Her choices might amount to a piercing/tattoo parlor, or phlebotomist (person who draws blood for blood tests etc… vamps). Maybe dog catcher. The HOPE scholarship was designed to enable these people with talents some of us don’t have to realize a brighter better future for all. HOPE should not be based on GPA or any other test. HOPE should be given to those who succeed in maximizing the skills they are capable of advancing in.

In essence, HOPE should be for those who are dedicated enough to graduate. AND if you don’t graduate, yet advance into the field chosen for education. If it advances children in a field which improves the over-all livelihood of those around them, I’m all for buying a lottery ticket to support that.

Regardless of GPA.

If a landscaper happens to know all the flowering bushes, how high they grow, privacy, safety, how close to the house a tree should be, what kinds of trees, how difficult to take care of – and they were educated only because the HOPE scholarship was available… I’ll buy TEN lottery tickets (up to 200+ Million right now). HOPE should pay for ANYONE who can show that they have significantly improved their livelihood through their education. Because, that improves my lot in life, simple as that.

It should just be a loan pending graduation or success in a related job. Regardless of GPA, if you can fight a way through everything in-between you and a career, there should be HOPE to reward you. If you can’t make it, then it’s a loan on a long-shot gamble that everyone should be able to afford to take.

These new guidelines are NOT HOPE. Supporting the bestest and brightest is already taken care of by industries needing them. Would I buy a lotto ticket to support them? NO.

Because, that’s not HOPE. Call it the GA Academic Scholarship fund or something. I don’t call my dog a horse and ride him to the store, after all.

poison pen

March 20th, 2011
3:59 pm

There have been many different blogs on The Hope Scholarship, why not do away with it? If a student can pass the ACT or whatever criteria a College requires then the state or federal gov’t. should pay for their education, then when the person graduates they must pay it all back.
If the student fails to graduate they must still pay it back.

There are sure ways to make them pay it back, so I don’t see a downside to this.
By doing this, we will be educating students and bankrupting less parents.


March 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

@David Hoffman; re “Grade inflation has destroyed the HOPE scholarship program financially, by allowing persons who clearly are not outstanding scholars to get the scholarship. Outstanding Pupils do NOT need remedial classes.”

I agree 100%.

I'm just saying

March 20th, 2011
4:04 pm

SAT scores have never been considered before when awarding HOPE scholarships until Gov. Deal’s “signature legislation”. Make no mistake, that was done purposely to exclude these students. If he wants to play that way, maybe a class action lawsuit for failing to provide an equal education is in order.


March 20th, 2011
4:09 pm

BTW, tuition at community colleges and third tier four year colleges in GA is about $3000 / year. 10% of that is $300/yr.

The same people who complain that they cannot afford $300/yr in tuition for their children probably spend about $100/mo for cable and have a three pack a day cigarette habit.

Where, oh where, can they possibly come up with $5.77 per week?


March 20th, 2011
4:58 pm

@David Hoffman
I drive a FORD. 30mpg, you? Or did you imply that Ford isn’t what it originally was, because, I could get behind that.


March 20th, 2011
5:09 pm

How in the world did anybody go to college in Georgia before 1993?


March 20th, 2011
5:12 pm

“David Hoffman” gets it. College is not for everyone – but evidently lots of folks think the Hope scholarship is mostly an expanding new entitlement instead of a scholarship.

My child earned it. Did yours?

March 20th, 2011
5:14 pm

HOPE was designed to help students who excel. Those students who made the grades got the money. Pretty simple. No discrimination between schools or regions. The kids’ efforts vis-a-vis their classmates determined their fates.

Then things began to go wrong. The high schools began to give away grades so everybody with a pulse qualified. (Just ask a college professor who teaches freshman classes.) The general fund money to colleges got reapportioned. The colleges raised to tuition at unprecedented rates. The lottery money declined.

So how do we fix it? Means test? Why should a student who worked hard be penalized by her parents’ success? SAT? Makes sense. Eliminates some of the truly unqualified. Reduced payout? Reflects the revenue reality. Convert to loan? It would certainly put give some much-needed incentives for working hard in school. All of the proposals have one thing in common. There’s less to go around, so someone is going to give up something. Everyone who has commented here wants it to be someone else.

BTW, one of the biggest problems with the changes as passed has been completely missed. The 3.7 GPA will no longer include the additional points for AP courses. That should pretty much kill demand for these courses for a lot of students. Taking hard courses or ones outside known talents will go by the wayside. Not a good outcome.


March 20th, 2011
5:21 pm

These “poor” people who cannot afford the small amount of extra tuition probably also drive newer leased cars, have cell phones, food stamps. The person who commented on the Pelll…You are correct. Pelll provides a good bit of money for truel needy children. We know several who have used it to help cover books, room and board, etc.

About td’s union comment….I spent two years teaching in a neighboring state with unions…Pay was $22,000 less than Clayton Co. Teachers retire with 50% I think after 30 years and no insurance benefits at all. Two teachers came in using walkers as they could not retire till they qualified for medicare. Teaching conditions were about the same. AND in GA you do not have to pay union dues…over $100 per month. Teachers also work 200 days a year. Unions are not so great.

history teacher

March 20th, 2011
5:23 pm

My daughter is a junior at Georgia Southern with a 3.8 GPA. She graduated 6th in her class of 200 with a 3.8 GPA. She took the SAT one time at the beginning of her junior year. She made a 1780 on it. She never took it again because that score was fine for getting her into Ga Southern. Now, unfortunately, due to the fact that her math and reading component was only 1110, she is not eligible for the full Hope scholarship. If she had known that the state was going to go back and change the guidelines, she would have taken it again. However, she believed that the government had integrity. After having my national board supplement eliminated, I guess we should have known that the state legislature has no concept of integrity. I understand that changes had to come. Reigning in the Board of Regents on outrageous tuition hikes would have been a good place to start. However, you cant tell me that grandfathering in students already in college would have broken the bank. If the state legislature truly wanted to award excellence, they would grandfather those college students who have already proven their academic excellence by maintaining their hope requirments. Well at least one thing has come from this fiasco. My daughter now is motivated to be politically active.


March 20th, 2011
5:25 pm

Folks – stop all of the posturing and whining about HOPE. It has nothing to do with educating our college students. It is purely and simply a political program designed to sway voters.

Just good ‘ole Georgia politics at its worst.


March 20th, 2011
5:34 pm

As someone who put myself through both undergraduate and graduate school in the pre-HOPE days, I still think HOPE Lite is better than nothing. However, according the Governor’s Office on Higher Education, I often wondered why of the 69 percent of high school graduates attending Georgia colleges and universities only 49 percent of them kept HOPE after the first year. It seems to me that a better starting point would have been to make HOPE a reimbursement program then make more drastic changes if necessary.


March 20th, 2011
6:02 pm

I just don’t understand how a student who must take remedial classes would have a qualifying GPA to get the HOPE scholarship? And why would they have been admitted to a 4 year college with such deficits? Community College is the place for those classes and I don’t think HOPE should pay for those classes at either type of school.