The consequences of reducing HOPE Scholarship awards are being felt at the state’s technical colleges, according to this AJC news story.
It will be interesting to see the long-term impact of the cuts to HOPE across all campuses in the state. I am not sure anybody is monitoring in a cohesive fashion, but it would be helpful in future debates to know the outcomes.
The story reports:
After three years of record enrollment, the number of students attending Georgia’s technical colleges dropped by more than 12,000 this fall and leaders say a reduced HOPE scholarship is partly to blame. Technical College System of Georgia officials are still analyzing the data. But with about 75 percent of the system’s students receiving HOPE, the state-funded scholarship program’s influence can not be underestimated.
Lawmakers overhauled HOPE last spring, decreasing the aid students receive to keep the program viable for future recipients. Tens of thousands of 4-year college students arrived on campus this fall on the hook for hundreds of dollars in tuition, books and mandatory fees HOPE once covered. Now, the reduction in HOPE benefits are being felt on technical college campuses.
Technical colleges charge $75 a credit and HOPE provides $60.75. While the out-of-pocket expense may seem small, technical college students tend to be older adults with families to support. “Once students got the bill and saw what they had to come up with some didn’t have the money and it scared them off,” Commissioner Ron Jackson said Tuesday. “To be honest, I thought we would have had a bigger decline.”
The 12 percent drop in enrollment can’t be attributed just to the scholarship and grant program. The system anticipated fewer students because of a system-wide switch from quarters to semesters that went into effect this fall. The system is teaching 103,762 students, a decrease of 12.4 percent from last year, according to the seven-day enrollment count. Jackson thought enrollment would drop by as much as 30 percent because of the schedule and HOPE changes. When the University System of Georgia switched from quarters to semesters in 1998, enrollment dropped by about 3 percent.
From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog