Gov. Deal to unveil need-based aid plan, but it won’t help current students in college

You can’t say Nathan Deal doesn’t listen to his critics.

Apparently stung by all the laments from cash-strapped families affected by the reductions to the HOPE program, the governor has a new idea, but it will take years to culminate. The program would use private funds to provide need-based college aid to worthy and qualified students identified in middle school.

I wasn’t sure exactly what the program entailed so I asked the reporter, higher ed writer Laura Diamond, to explain a bit more: “It will be something that will happen for current middle school students once they get to college. The idea is students will be identified in middle school and then — provided they maintain decent grades and stay out of trouble–  they’ll get college scholarships.”

Laura said she had more questions but the governor’s rep, Erin Hames, declined to elaborate until the official news release next month. The biggest question is the source of enough private funding to power a statewide program of this nature.

According to AJC story that Laura wrote today:

The program won’t benefit current college students, but it will pledge financial support to middle school students so they will be motivated to finish high school and go to college, Erin Hames, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for policy, said Tuesday.

Deal will unveil the program and provide more details next month, she said. She briefly mentioned the program during the first meeting of a commission tasked with developing a new funding formula for Georgia’s public colleges. That commission is part of a statewide effort to help more Georgians earn a college degree.

The new scholarship will be privately funded, Hames said, adding the state is studying existing programs in Florida and Cartersville schools.

The program will target low-income students, with a preference for those who would be the first in their family to attend college, she said. Students will be required to maintain high grades and sign contracts promising to stay out of trouble. Students will be paired with mentors who will help them prepare for and apply to college, she said.

Georgia has provided HOPE, a merit-based scholarship, since 1993. More than 256,000 students went to college through the lottery-funded program last year.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

20 comments Add your comment

Proud Teacher

December 13th, 2011
6:55 pm

I trust nothing from Atlanta to be truly favorable for education. Their mandates for the classroom teachers and students have been nothing but burdens. Teachers must teach according to the “canned” plan, all children can achieve a college prep high school schedule, teachers can successfully teach thirty in any given class, special ed and regular students belong in the same level class in high school, students must always have alternate summative assessment and never be required to meet a deadline, and the list goes on. Really, Atlanta? Really? You’re going to help anybody in education? I can only hope.

Proud Teacher

December 13th, 2011
6:55 pm

Or if I can infer proper informattion from this article: “Bye bye, HOPE!”


December 13th, 2011
7:11 pm

Actually HOPE spelled the end of a program in which the state payed a portion (I think half) and the feds paid the other half for a needs-based award. When HOPE came on, the state discontinued contributing to the scholarship and it ended. So it is kind of funny that now Deal proposes to start a program based on financial need. Whatcha want to bet it will be something where private citizens can write off their tax responsibility by giving the money to the state (and the giver’s child or grandchild will be able to receive the money). Meanwhile, the rest of us will pick up the tab for the lost revenue. Oh, wait! We already do that for K-12 students in PRIVATE schools!


December 13th, 2011
7:57 pm

Many questions come to mind about this initiative. I am interested to see how this program is ultimately structured. Will qualifying kids who start out in low-income families in middle school but who’s families climb the economic ladder by the time they graduate from high school be allowed to benefit from the program? Or will these students lose the financial incentive that supposedly motivated them to finish school and stay out of trouble? How malleable will the definition for “staying out of trouble” be? Will a qualified student become ineligible if s/he is suspended from school, associate with the wrong crowd, cited for a traffic violation, etc.? The devil is always in the details!

Ultimately this is a long-term effort — and does nothing to address the rising cost of college. Acess to higher education is a real issue for many students and families across Georgia today. What is the stategy for these students and families?

And for those individuals who argue that the state should not be in the business of providing financial assistance for college, fine. Just accept the reality that an educated workforce is a key driver of economic growth. Georgia is falling behind in the competition for good paying jobs and need to revisit its “strategy for success”. Contrary to popular belief, there is a point where you can lower taxes all you want, but businesses will not locate to — or remain in — a place where the human capital is a liability rather than an asset.


December 13th, 2011
8:18 pm

When the Governor of Georgia announces a new idea for college scholarships and people immediately smell something rotten, the sorry state of politics seems even worse.

bootney farnsworth

December 14th, 2011
6:12 am

if the gov really wants to control spending and get more Georgians college degrees, the answer is very simple

require all students using state funds to go to a 2 year school, and get an associates degree, before allowing them to go on to a four year school


December 14th, 2011
6:30 am

There are many scholarships out there already targeting low-income students: Sally Mae Scholarship Funds, the Need Based Scholarship Program, the Legal Opportunity Scholarship program, Gates Millenimum Scholarships, Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships, the Google Scholarship Program, the KFC Colonel’s Scholars Program, the Suder Foundation Scholarship, the National Medial Fellowships Need Based Scholarship Program, and I’m sure there are others.

If you ask me, Deal’s plan looks like political window dressing. What a surprise coming from a Republican.


December 14th, 2011
6:50 am

Bootney Farnsworth, why on earth should a highly intelligent, 4.0 student go to a two year school. Making sweeping statements like “require all students using state funds go to a 2 year school…” you have bought into the Republican’s line that all public schools are bad and all students graduating from the public schools are ignorant. My niece will graduate from a public school this June and she has already been accepted to several Ivy League schools. She is brilliant. She won’t need, nor will she get the Hope because she’s going out of state.


December 14th, 2011
7:22 am

I agree with Redweather. It is the middle class students that are “really” financially challenged when it comes to college.


December 14th, 2011
7:55 am

Gee, why does the government pay for college…I do not see it is their place…but the big question, why has college cost outstripped any and all other cost including infaltion by tripple figures. Perhaps if Deal spent time investigating the real cost of the university system and revenues it receives, he could make if a lot cheaper. but alas, another big government organization run by elite criminals that have no accountability. And you wonder what is wrong with the education system! Oh, ad for “Need Based”…this will only lead to the “R” word being thrown around and discrimination being screamed! Watch, it is trouble waiting to happen!


December 14th, 2011
8:01 am

You don’t need a crystal ball to see where this is going. They set up this program with private funding, get a bunch a kids on the dole, and then when the expenditures exceed revenue, we taxpayers will be forced to make up the difference.

Besides, as others have pointed out, there are a ton of scholarships, grants, and loans already available to the low income student.

@Catlady, we’ve blogged about this before. The donor to the private school scholarship fund gets a $2500 credit and the taxpayers avoid $6000-10000 expenditure to send a kid to public school. Sounds like a good deal to me….

@Cedric, I agree. When colleges have access to “easy money”, such as with the HOPE Scholarship, they have little incentive to hold costs in check. That model has been repeated numerous times (medicaid/medicare effect on healthcare is probably the most graphic).


December 14th, 2011
10:27 am


You wrote “My niece will graduate from a public school this June and she has already been accepted to several Ivy League schools.”

I keep reading blog comments like this (in other online forums as well, not just Get Schooled) and being mystified. According to their admissions websites, the Ivys all have similar admissions processes with quite similar dates and deadlines. Here’s a copy-and-paste from Harvard’s website:

Early Action candidates apply by November 1 and receive notification by December 15.
Regular Action candidates apply by January 1 and receive notification by April 1. While the final deadline is January 1, it would be very helpful to us to receive your application by December 15 so that we can create your admissions file as early as possible.

So … it’s possible your niece could have applied under Early Action or Early Decision and received an acceptance notice about now. However, a student is permitted to apply to only ONE school under Early Action/Decision, so that wouldn’t allow them to have “already been accepted to several Ivy League schools” on December 14th, the date of your post.


December 14th, 2011
10:27 am

why would a GAWD FEARIN red state resort to gambling to pay for scholarships?

HS Public Teacher

December 14th, 2011
12:32 pm

Sounds like Deal is already starting his campaign for the next election. Anything for good PR.


December 14th, 2011
3:24 pm

@ bootney farnsworth. “If the gov really wants to control spending and get more Georgians college degrees, the answer is very simple. Require all students using state funds to go to a 2 year school, and get an associates degree, before allowing them to go on to a four year school.”

Of course, then none of those 4-year schools would be able to count these students in their 6-year graduation rates since the students would be transfers…which would cost the schools severely in state legislative funding.


December 14th, 2011
3:40 pm

P.S………since Governor Deal proposes that state funding to USG schools be tied to their 6-year graduation rates.


December 14th, 2011
10:58 pm

This is not a conservative idea Governor Deal. Any financial awards should be based solely on merit. Conservatives should not be pushing lib programs.


December 15th, 2011
2:13 am

No No No! Either earn a scholarship, or work your way through. Pay your loans off after graduation if you have to borrow. No more tax money handed out to people who aren’t willing to study or work. Forget it.

Hot Fire of Troof

December 15th, 2011
4:26 am

Yeah, let’s find EVEN MORE ways to reward the unmotivated, the lazy and the bottom feeders of society with the earnings taken from people who actually get off their behinds and study and work each day.

No matter how many handouts, freebies and UNEARNED advantages you give these clowns, at the expense of income taken through the government by force of the actually productive members of society, many of these unappreciative freeloaders will still find ways to EARN their ways into prison and/or the welfare system.

Oh, by the way, if you use your cell phone while your vehicle is in motion, you belong in prison or a graveyard. (Yes, that includes YOU, too.)


December 15th, 2011
10:56 am

@ Chris and Hot Fire of Troof. Say what? This new aid plan is to be privately funded. No tax money. The middle school recipients “will be required to maintain high grades and sign contracts promising to stay out of trouble.”