Nearly nine out of 10 Zell Miller Scholars attend UGA or Tech

If you want to find a Zell Miller Scholar, go to UGA or Tech.  (AJC file)

If you want to find a Zell Miller Scholar, go to UGA or Tech. (AJC file)

Interesting data out of today’s joint House and Senate hearing on the shrinking HOPE Scholarship.

The only speaker was Timothy A. Connell, president of the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which manages HOPE. The Georgia Lottery funds HOPE and pre-k.

With lottery revenues failing to keep pace with rising tuition and growing demand, Gov. Nathan Deal last year made drastic and controversial changes to HOPE, and those changes were retrofitted to students already in college.

For most recipients, HOPE tuition payments fell 10 to 15 percent. The payments could fluctuate each year based on how much money the lottery raises and how much students must also pay for mandatory fees.

Only one group of college students — those who graduated high school with a 3.7 or higher GPA  and scored at least 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 on the ACT –  earn the assurance of full tuition every year regardless of lottery coffers. These students are Zell Miller Scholars.  The Zell Miller honor is also extended to all high school valedictorians and salutatorians.

Out of all HOPE recipients in the state, only 14 percent met the criteria to be Zell Miller Scholars.

We know a little bit more about where those students attend school:

–86 percent of Zell Miller Scholars attend Georgia Tech or the University of Georgia. Throw in Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Georgia College and you know where 90 percent of the Zells are.

–If the state remains committed to aligning HOPE payments to available lottery revenues, the non-Zells, the HOPE Lite students, will pay more out of pocket for college tuition and fees than they receive from HOPE in 2016.

–Despite the contention of many folks here on the blog that top students don’t stay in Georgia for college, Connell says about only 30 percent of high school valedictorians leave to attend out-of-state colleges. Seven out of 10 stay in Georgia for college, a number that Connell says has stayed consistent over the last three years.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

57 comments Add your comment


January 25th, 2012
4:58 pm

So nine out of ten top-tier high school graduates choose a top-tier college or university when they move on to higher education. Why would anyone think this was either surprising or undesirable?

Maureen Downey

January 25th, 2012
5:06 pm

@AJ, I think the issue will be political — we already know that Tech and UGA tend to get the higher income kids who score higher on tests. Now, those kids have the benefit of full HOPE as well. At the hearing, there were several questions on breaking down even further where these kids come from — their counties, their high schools, etc.
It also tells us that there are kids at other colleges who had the 3.7 GPA — those are the kids who won spots in the honors programs at their colleges — but probably did not have the SAT/ACT scores.


January 25th, 2012
5:11 pm

Ole Guy

January 25th, 2012
5:22 pm

We keep talkin’ about these scholarships…ZM, HOPE, etc, and the “inequities” (perceived or otherwise) of just how the monies gets dealt across the table of “scholars”. We have seen, for far too many years, many of these so-called scholars are simply the recipients of faux high school academic achievements. Lets take a look at the other end of the collegiate pipeline:

WHAT IS THE COLLEGE GRADUATION RATE OF THESE SCHOLARS? With all the pissin an’moanin’ over so-called inequities, I…and I am quite certain many other CONCERNED citizens…would like to know if this pissin an moanin is, indeed, justifiable, or simply…pissin an moanin.

Paddy O

January 25th, 2012
5:29 pm

The key to preventing those who don’t reallly need the money (welfare for the wealthy) is to put an earning cap threshold, possibly an assets threshold – sort of either or. If your household income is over $100,000, or you have assets in excess of a million – no hope for you. The innate goal should be to get all good scholars from homes of low income access to college – you don’t want them dropping out due to the debt fear from college attendance. One question: Why does it cost so much to attend school now? (Besides the club med amenities many campus administrators seem addicted to providing.)

Sarah Coulter

January 25th, 2012
5:33 pm

Paddy, but why should the students that worked hard have to lose out on the opportunity for Hope just because their parents make a certain income? Shouldn’t they be rewarded for their hardwork, too?

Paddy O

January 25th, 2012
5:34 pm

Brain drain? Another fictional problem narrated by liberals. 2700 net kids left to go to school, with absolutely no explanation for why they left. Not a number I’d worry about. Unless of course we have GA colleges with empty slots.


January 25th, 2012
5:35 pm

My daughter is one of the 10% using the Zell Miller at Savannah College of Art and Design. It’s $4000 towards their $43,000 price tag, so thanks-but-it’s-not-like-at-public-college. By the way, she has been on Dean’s List with a 3.78 GPA for the past 4 quarters.

Paddy O

January 25th, 2012
5:35 pm

They don’t NEED the reward. Others actually NEED the money to attend, so where is the sense in giving needed money by others to those who don’t NEED it to attend the school?

Paddy O

January 25th, 2012
5:36 pm

SCAD appears to be an excellent, community oriented school – but it is private, yes? What is she majoring in?

Paddy O

January 25th, 2012
5:39 pm

Has SCAD ever given a break down on the explanation of the cost? Or, if there is a profit margin that someone benefits from? I do assume that attendance at SCAD is relatively small, thus the demand for higher per capita cost.

Paddy O

January 25th, 2012
5:40 pm

Sarah: If they DON’T NEED the money to attend, what are they losing out on? Free give aways? Also, the reward for the hard work is innate – they are investing in themselves.


January 25th, 2012
5:45 pm

@Paddy O, SCAD is actually not the most expensive private school around, certainly not for an art and design school. Many private liberal arts schools are up around $48-50,000 per year. Enrollment at SCAD this fall topped 11,000 students. Actually, there is no correlation between student enrollment and percapita cost with either private or public universities.


January 25th, 2012
5:49 pm

If HOPE is going to be needs-based, so be it. But re-name it. If it is going to be merit based, make it based on real, AUTHENTIC merit. If it is merit-based, all who reach the standard should get the scholarship.

When I went to college, I got a one hundred dollar scholarship! There was very little merit based scholarship money then, unless you were going to an Ivy. I graduated second in my class of 230, with a 1300 (unrecentered) SAT and a 32 ACT. I was fortunate in that I didn’t need the money–my parents had saved for years, and I was able to go to an OOS public college with no problems for money.

Those who complain about HOPE should get a grip. HOWEVER, the Lottery Corp should have its charter taken away due to its abject failure to meet its expected payouts to the state’s education. I am SURE there are other lottery corporations who would be glad to step in and fill the bill. Our lawmakers have been totally remiss in not holding the Lottery Corp to the fire. Time to de-charter them, folks!

Ole Guy

January 25th, 2012
5:49 pm

Sarah, you probably believe in rewarding the kid for “downloading” without falling in…c’mon, Sarah…you may not care for my somewhat earthy approach to (what appears to be) your beliefs, but you just may wish to re-evaluate your remarks. The kid 1) happens to come from a family of means (no achievement there) and 2) happens to believe in applying his/her intellect to the task at hand…making good-to-decent, if not outstanding grades. You seem to feel that this, in and of itself, should justify the very same assistance as the kid’s counterpart whose parents do not enjoy the same socioeconomic standards as he/she.

According to your reasoning, we should ALL receive unemployment, food stamps, and just about any-and-all government assistance.

Reward for their hard work is/should be (not instantaneous, as our contemporary beliefs seem to go), but in the knowledge that he/she has gained a value which will lead to ultimate success and a fruitful life.


January 25th, 2012
5:49 pm

So basically, don’t forget that Zell Miller Scholars at private schools are costing us $4000 per student, while at public schools (UGA, Tech, GaState, etc) they are getting 100% of tuition, costing $8000-10,000 per student. Don’t spear the private school kids!


January 25th, 2012
5:52 pm

@ Paddy O. – How are you so sure that households making 100 K don’t need/deserve the Hope benefit? Our household income is right at 100 K and my son is already taking out loans to help with all the extra expenses. I guess in your book we’re rich right ? I guess we must be- a teacher and a nurse – wow, look out Warren Buffet ! Do YOU have one or more kids in college ? I don’t believe in a cap, but 100 K certainly shouldn’t be the cut-off. Make the scholarship a loan situation if the student can’t keep the grades up and this whole sorry mess solves itself.

Drew Bernard

January 25th, 2012
6:26 pm

“…why should the students that worked hard have to lose out on the opportunity for Hope just because their parents make a certain income?”

The better question is why should the students that worked hard have to lose out on the opportunity to attend college just because their parents don’t make a certain income? There’s finite funding for HOPE and it, first and foremost, should be allocated to college-ready kids who had no say in how much money their parents earned.

Hillbilly D

January 25th, 2012
7:13 pm

HOWEVER, the Lottery Corp should have its charter taken away due to its abject failure to meet its expected payouts to the state’s education.

Good comment. It amazes me that the press, state and local, never seem to mention this.


January 25th, 2012
7:43 pm

I am with cat lady–we need to decide if HOPE is to be merit or need based, and then
set the ground rules. I believe it should be merit based–with both a core grade point
and an ACT/SAT requirement. Let us reward achievement.

Old Fat Guy

January 25th, 2012
8:21 pm

Yesterday my son was named Star Student for the Highest SAT in his school. He has a un-weighted GPA of 4.0. He has been accepted to UGA for next year and accepted into the Honors program. He should receive the Hope Scholarship, but now we are going to change the game and say that he should not get it because I am successful? Hope should stay merit based.

Whoa Nelly from Good Mom

January 25th, 2012
8:25 pm

whoa nelly….

For all those who say that the Hope scholarship should go to everyone who makes good grades and “deserves” it and not based on any income amounts, please consider this…

Where does the Hope money really come from? It comes from the poor. Overwhelmingly, poor people buy lottery tickets. Not one or two on pay day but a dozen or more. The do this because they feel they have no hope (no pun intended) of ever having a decent living otherwise.

So, as we think about where to spend money that poor people provided, methinks the right thing to do would be to give it back to the poor in a way that will definitely help them the most — more Ga Lottery funded pre-k programs that last all day. The way out of poverty is an education and one can never get to college without a very good start and that means a good, strong Pre-K.

For colleges and universities, we simply need to ensure there are reasonable tuition caps on GA state colleges and universities to ensure everyone can afford it.

If that means tossing out a football team in order to reduce the tuition, so be it.


I would like to make an argument for skewing the Hope scholarship so that it goes to teh working poor and the middle class for these reasons:

Let’s think

Hillbilly D

January 25th, 2012
8:34 pm

Whoa Nelly from Good Mom

Bill Shipp used to say that the Lottery was poor people sending middle class kids to college. A lot of truth in that. My own opinion is that it should be both needs and merit based. You’d have to have the grades to get it but with a family income cap, too. That should please everybody or make everybody mad, one or the other.

About those requirements from Good Mom

January 25th, 2012
8:35 pm

Now about those requirements for the Zell Miller scholarship…

I had scum bag parents who didn’t give a rip about me. I had to run away from home in high school to escape the abuse. I dropped out of the things I loved to do at school and got a job, lived with a friend’s parents and went to school. With working I had little time to study and my grades dropped below a 3.5 but I was stilll a smart kid and was dedicated, i just didn’t have the time to do all the work while slinging pizzas all night for $3.35 an hour. I took the ACT one time with no prep and made a 27 in all areas.

So, a kid like me who needed the money and was dedicated would not have qualified for the Zell Miller and I really needed it then.

…and just because one’s parents earn $100,000 or more a year doesn’t mean any of it ever gets to the kids. My cousin is the daughter of a multi-millioinaire and she literally got zip from her mom and dad and lived on tomato sandwiches, a job and went to Auburn.

All this back and forth about who “deserves” the money and who should get the money isn’t going to ensure those who need it and deserve it will get it. We’ve got to solve the problem instead of treating the symptoms.

The problem is tuition that is out of control. Allow the private schools to charge whatever they want but let’s put controls on our state colleges and universities so that everyone who wants to go to college can go.

Our nation’s future depends on having million of educated citizens. Let’s make it work.


January 25th, 2012
8:35 pm

My husband and I made over $100,000 last year. My son and I applied for loans totalling over 10,000 to help him get through his freshman year. He worked hard in high school and had a 3.7 GPA. and after his first semester, he has kept Hope. If this income cap is passed, he probably will not attend this school next year( It is not UGA or GA Tech). With everything that seems to be rising, taxes, insurance, food, gas, and TUITION many families who make this income ( yes, over 100,000) will not be able to send their kids to school. I do not want my child having to repay more than $ 40,000 in loans because his parents made a certain income. If a child achieves, then that child should be able to get Hope no matter what the situation. The lawmakers of this state continue to make it difficult for ALL students to achieve the dream of going to college. As I see it, my son will not get Hope because his parents make too much money, and he isn’t a Zell Miller scholar. ( His ACT score was above the national average and according to the ACT, he was college ready in all areas; not a lot of students achieve college readiness in all areas.) He should be given the same opportunity as any other students whose parents are citizens of the state of GA and pay taxes.


January 25th, 2012
8:43 pm

@PaddyO — To use your emphasis, HOPE is not a NEED based program, it is a MERIT based program. It was designed and approved as such. There are hundreds, thousands of NEED based scholarship programs, as well as eligibility for government Pell grants and loans, for which high achieving students are ineligible only because their parents income level (which may or may not be available for college support) is judged too high. Why is that fair?

HOPE is the one program, other than the National Merit program (which pays all of $250 a semester) that is open to students based on their own achievements (unless, of course, we’re talking about athletic scholarships, which make me sick). Why are you so set on taking that single opportunity away?

@Catlady, as usual I agree with what you write. Real achievement has to be recognized, not grade-inflated nonsense, and the only way to do that is with a nationally-normed cut off.

@Ole Guy, the students are not receiving “government assistance”. HOPE is not funded by taxpayers. It is funded by the lottery, which was approved in this state for this specific purpose. Your simile is invalid.

You'll Like THis from Good Mom

January 25th, 2012
8:51 pm

I really liked this part of the speech by Obama. I think all of us here will likely agree with it ” Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars.”

That’s a great idea. Give a tax credit for families to send their kids to school. That will be a huge savings to middle class families who need it.

I also really like the stay in school until they are 18 rule. I want to stand up and cheer. If children are allowed to leave school at 16, they will mentally check out and not try. If they are required to stay in school until they are 18, a time when most kids graduate anyway, they will be more likley not to mentally check out…

good call.
Good Mom

Parent Teacher

January 25th, 2012
9:43 pm

By instituting an income cap who is really going to be affected. You can argue that no one will be because the families have enough money to pay for their child’s education. Keep in mind that you will be placing an income cap on adults based on another person’s income. If you want to have an income cap, base it on the student’s income not the family. It will be the student who takes out loans to make up the shortfall in some instances not the family of the student. It will be the student required to repay the loan not the parents. The reason the income cap was removed was because it hurt the student not the parent.

As for grade inflation, I have never seen any teacher inflate grades to ensure that a student gets HOPE. Grade inflation that occurs comes from administration pushing teachers to give grades to help the school gain AYP. These students are usually sitting in the high 60 range and not competing for the valedictorian position or even the 3.0 gpa. Those students do earn those grades.


January 25th, 2012
10:27 pm

Regarding high public school tuition rates:

Every year, the (Republican) state legislature cuts funding for our state colleges.

When they make these cuts, the colleges get *part* of the cuts back by raising tuition and fees.

Here’s how it works.

Say the state funds a college with, say, $5,000 per student in the year. Tuition is $1,000 for the year.

The next year, the state funds the college with $3,000 per student in the year. Tuition is now $2,000.

Students scream bloody murder. People talk about those evil colleges demanding more money.

But what has happened?

The college gets $1,000 less per student for the year, even though tuition has gone up.

You see?

You need to be harassing the legislators, not the college administration.


January 25th, 2012
10:45 pm

This does not surprise me. I tried to find out the # of Zell Miller scholars from my children’s HS but the GSFC didn’t have that data available in Sep. when I sent an e-mail inquiring.

I think I am in agreement that HOPE needs to be a reimbursement program. Make it a loan until after spring semester. Make the grades and you don’t pay it back, otherwise treat it like a subsidized loan – payable upon graduation. Not sure if that is feasible. But they really need to address the root problem – out of control tuition increases which are partly the result of the state legislature fairly consistently reducing Higher ed funding since HOPE started. Another option is to increase revenue sources as Delaware did. AJC article by Kristina Torres 1/9/12 “Delaware officials on Monday lauded the idea of gaming machines for Georgia, saying the machines had raised significant revenue for their state over the past 15 years and could do the same here.”

N. GA Teacher

January 25th, 2012
10:56 pm

I work with many poor students who aspire to attend college and get Hope money. The bloggers who discuss other funding options for the poor, like Pell grants, are right. A TON of money goes begging because students never find out about it or because guidance departments are stretched too thin (not enough counselors in the school) OR because students are too lazy to fill out the forms or write the necessary essays. The difference between private high school counselors and Title I public high school counselor priorities is amazing. A counselor from a well-regarded private school told me that his primary job is to help guide students to admission to the most elite colleges possible and to procure as much funding as possible for the child. Graduation is a “given” for his students, so he helps them select academic schedules and encourage extracurricular activities in periodic meetings, much like upper-middle class public high school counselors do. He is on the road all the time hobnobbing with colleges and helping kids with visits. Counselors at poor public high schools are buried under central office mandates to “save” kids from dropping out, to “recover” credits and to “graduate kids on time” to make AYP. In other words, they are focused on the bottom 40%. They have to organize and administer mountains of standardized tests. They deal with teen trauma that range from abuse at home to bullying and ordinary teen drama intensified by underclass norms. There are shockingly few guidance counselors (maybe one per 500 students) at many schools, when there SHOULD be 1 per 200. The more able students are often left on their own to dig up money for college, and they have no sophisticated system to go about this, in part because they have had nobody from their family ever attend college. So one help for the poor is to beef up the guidance team to help them in high school. HOPE IS and SHOULD remain a merit-based scholarship. So what if middle and upper-middle class people making $100-300 thousand a year get this? Believe me, $200,000 a year INCOME does not go far in North Atlanta and Cobb. And the aristocracy don’t “rob the Hope fund” because they usually send their kids out of state anyway to the Ivies and to Europe, Tulane, Vandy, SMU, Stanford, Bryn Mawr, Vassar, etc.


January 25th, 2012
11:24 pm

If you go to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (, I think this will help explain why HOPE is running out of money. Only 32% of Georgia’s students retain HOPE after 90 hours and only 52% graduate after six years. I shudder at the thought of the millions of dollars wasted on the 68% of students who were probably ill-equipped to handle the rigors of higher education. Given the statistics, wouldn’t the simple solution be to make HOPE a reimbursement program?

another comment

January 25th, 2012
11:57 pm

What alot of you low salaried types, don’t seem to understand that $100K or $150K will not stop upper income kids from getting the HOPE. Their parents do not get a corporate salary and a W-2. They are self-employed and have schedule C’s. The business/family accountant will make sure that they stay below what ever the cut-off is.

When I was in college my self-employed father’s income showed only $5,200 or so a year. What my father wrote my mother out for grocery money back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. We then qualified for the Pell Grant, etc…, Funny thing is my parents never applied for Food Stamps or Free Lunch with this low income for a family of 6. My father told me right before he died a couple of years ago, that he wished his accountant would have upped his income after we all graduated from college. Because taking this low of an income and paying in to Social Security at such a low rate cost my parents on their Social Security checks. So my father had to keep the business for income, and my mother at 86 year old technically now shows up as the owner and operator of this small business. She needs it to live on.

Income caps won’t work! They will just cost the State and the Federal Government with income tax money. The majority of accountants will tell small business owners to make sure they lower their income below the cap. I hate to say it but these are the job creators.

Voice of Reason

January 26th, 2012
5:33 am

The purpose of the funding source is to serve as a means to pay for college tuition for well-deserving students. A funding cap may be necessary to reverse the tide of increases welfare for the wealthy. Most lottery players are not the wealthy. Additionally, the use of high SAT or ACT scores disenfranchise many students of color who are often attending sub-par schools where the average SAT score is well below that of the state and nation. Truth be told, students of color want to score higher on college entrance exams. However, their efforts are often dwarfed by the lack of rigor in their classrooms. The lack of study and too much socialization on non-academics contributes to this as well.

Em says from Good Mother

January 26th, 2012
5:43 am

Em says “Given the statistics, wouldn’t the simple solution be to make HOPE a reimbursement program?”

Well, em, if a deserving student needs to get to college and they are poor or working class with no means, how are they going to get the money to get to college to get reimbursed? You have to pay up front to teh college. They don’t accept IOUs and landlords do not accept IOUs either.

To Paula from Good Mother

January 26th, 2012
5:48 am

I understand your dilemma. $100k a year is not much. One still has to save for retirement and that leaves too little to save for the high costs of college.

You write “If a child achieves, then that child should be able to get Hope no matter what the situation.”

What you haven’t said is where would the money come from? We cannot force people to buy more lottery tickets to create more college Hope money. So if there is not enough money from lottery sales to provide enough money for everyone who earns Hope to get Hope, then where do you get the money? Do you advocate raising taxes to give kids like yours more Hope money or do you have another plan?


To Another Comment from Good Mother

January 26th, 2012
5:51 am

Another Comment, I certainly appreciate your honest comments. You admit your father cheated and lied on his taxes to get what he wanted.

So we really do need better audits to ensure everyone is honest about their income.

To Parent Teacher from Good Mother

January 26th, 2012
6:05 am

PT you say “As for grade inflation, I have never seen any teacher inflate grades to ensure that a student gets HOPE. ”

How do you explain the frequent occurrence of students with high GPAs flunking out of college or their GPAs dropping like a rock. I argue those students are not prepared for college and those high school GPAs are inflated.

I’ll share my own experience. My high school did a disservice to those of us who were likely college candidates. We had a test every six weeks and the teacher taught straight from the book. I simply cracked my book open and followed along in the text books as the teacher taught in class. With only six weeks’ worth of material to be tested on, I literally reviewed the material in the book the day before the test and did well in high school.

….but college was a different story. The professors taught out of their head, not out of the text book so I couldn’t follow along in the book and I, of course, had no experience “taking notes.” The exams in college were comprehensive; they had only one or two per semester, which left too much material to “cram” into studying for the test and, of course, what was in the text book was not what the professor taught so I made low grades my first semester of school. It took me an entire semester to relearn how to learn in college.

As another poster said, guidance counselors vary from school to school. I went to a poor school and I thought the guidance counselor was a nice name for a school secretary. He spoke to me only one time in high school, the day after my ACT scores were received. He stopped me in the hallway and told me my 27 score earned me a scholarship to a state university and I said thank you and that was it. Period.

I don’t know what he did all day but only ten people in my high school went to college, just ten. Only three of us graduated. We had 150 in my graduating class. That’s a sad, sad, day for America.

Old School Girl

January 26th, 2012
6:52 am

This argument is typical of the, Georgia Entitled Stupid Mentality Group.

Simple solution, to this problem, you don’t spend more than you have. Every student that meets the grade criteria, receives a FLAT amount, based upon the total amount of money collected by the Lottery in the prior year and the total number of students that qualify. That way, everyone gets something, but no one gets a full ride. If you want to put away a little extra to pay to the Zell Miller Scholars, that is fine. However penalizing parents of high achievers is unfair, and lends itself the the current ‘Dumb Down Philosophy’ so rampant in Georgia. Let’s face it parents, you knew 18 years ago when little Johnny or Shequtia was born, that you wanted them to go to college…start saving for it. By the way, I am neither liberal nor conservative…just full of common sense.

a reader

January 26th, 2012
7:14 am

Whatever happens, can there please be a push to at least grandfather students already in college?

I hate how students already in college are now faced with a different scenario than the one they were told existed when they made their college choices. Maybe choices would have been different and maybe not, but at least follow through on a 4 year promise if the student keeps their end of the bargain (college GPA).


January 26th, 2012
7:22 am

Georgia Education system is the land of opportunity for those looking to the future. My son and his wife, neither from Georgia enrolled in the MBA program at Emory U. They both graduated[she first in the class] Because of the opportunity afforded by the University they both found themselves in international business taking them to every part of the world. It was a wonderful opportunity that a Georgia education afforded them. It is all there.
Goizueta Business School. Singapore, Australia, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, China, Austria, the whole 9 yards.


January 26th, 2012
9:34 am

The main reason HOPE is not income-based is that it was designed to keep the highest achievers in-state. Better students = better colleges……keeping these students in-state increases the chance of keeping them in-state after they graduate. This, in turn, over time, will improve education at all levels in the state. So, make HOPE income-based and watch all the Zell Miller qualifiers leave the state for college (and maybe life). Dumbing-down the HOPE serves no purpose………..

soon to be college parent

January 26th, 2012
9:35 am

“Despite the contention of many folks here on the blog that top students don’t stay in Georgia for college, Connell says about only 30 percent of high school valedictorians leave to attend out-of-state colleges. Seven out of 10 stay in Georgia for college, a number that Connell says has stayed consistent over the last three years.”

This shows that HOPE is working at keeping the smarter kids in Georgia. What was this before HOPE? I would venture to guess a lot lower. One of the goals of HOPE is to improve the quality of the students we educate in Georgia, with the hope that they will stay and work in Georgia. Take away HOPE for a large number of the high performing students and the benefit to staying in-state decreases dramatically. We will see the quality of the universities in Georgia revert back to the pre-HOPE quality, which was not ast good.

I would be in favor of eliminating the Zell and giving every kid as much as can be given toward tuition. Even a 75% funding would still keep the benefit of staying in-state high.


January 26th, 2012
10:02 am

@GoodMom – I agree that the requirement to stay in school until 18 (or graduation) might be a good idea but there would have to be a plan to segregate those troublemakers who simply do not want to be in school at all and do their best to disrupt class proceedings. The kids who DO want to get something out of a class, whether or not they really like that class, should NOT have to put up with the bad behavior.


January 26th, 2012
10:02 am

When I was in high school in NC, UGA was a joke. Kids who couldn’t get into a decent college in state in NC would settle for being stuck at UGA for four years. I attended private college in GA in the 1980s, and every college but Tech was considered a joke – a country bumpkin college. The only decent thing that came out of UGA was REM and the B52s.

Now, thanks to HOPE, UGA is one of the best regarded colleges in the nation. However, income cap HOPE, and you will see UGA sink to its 1980 status.

We are already looking out of state because it appears to be near certainty that Georgia will change HOPE to just another entitlement program instead of a program that rewards hard work and achievement. Chapel Hill is a reach, Auburn and Clemson are safes. Looking for middle of the road colleges now – Sewannee and W&L are looking good.

Sure we can afford college is HOPE disappears, but we will not be spending our money in the State of Georgia. It’s just not worth the investment.


January 26th, 2012
10:11 am

@N.GaTeacher – Well said! I thoroughly agree.


January 26th, 2012
10:24 am

Please do not tell me that my child doesn’t need HOPE just because I make a certain amount of money. You have no idea what my circumstances are or what my families’ needs are. My child should not be penalized because I work hard and have a good job. There are plenty of “needs based” scholarships and financial aid opportunities out there for lower income families. HOPE is an achievement based scholarship that should be afforded to all students who work hard in high school and meet the grade based eligibility requirements. Take family income levels out of the equation.

C Jae of EAV

January 26th, 2012
10:27 am

The comments made by Catlady @01/25/12 5:49pm summed up the whole situation in my view. When HOPE was introduced it was a “needs-based” program with the determination of “need” judged by income caps, which crept upward until the income cap was totally eliminated as a metric for determining the award. Thus at that point it was no longer a “needs based” award. We could question the motivation for this gradual shift in public policy, but fact remains with concept of a income cap removed, it would quite a political feat to get it re-introduced into the equation. Simply put it’s not about to happen.

That leaves us with where we are presently, the HOPE program re-defined as merit based in an effort to curb the sharp rise in expenditure due to rising costs of school (which is a whole other argument) and the previous policy choices aforementioned. It would seem to me that we suffer at this point from the state raising the expectations of its citizens too high (i.e. removing income caps but holding the illusion that lottery receipts would supply the demand). In effect, we turned a program desired to help spawn greater opportunity for lower income families into a defacto “tax” on that same demographic as its the aforementioned demographic that disportionately participate in the lottery in the first place. Thus as those impacted by the tax have chosen to by-pass it by lessoning their playing habits, receipts have gone down are now outpaced by the demand created by public policy changes for HOPE. Reflecting back on the significant opposition to the introduction of the lottery in the first place, I wonder to myself how many of those in areas that overwhelmingly voted against having a lottery are not clamoring to maintain the personal benefit they’ve enjoyed that spawns from it.

I would argue that the original intent of the HOPE program has been destroyed and the program may well need to go away altogether, which I feel would be huge shame. Nevertheless, previous public policy handouts & market forces have painted HOPE into a corner it can’t seem to get out of. At this stage we have to question the degree to which the state is capable of maintaining the illusion. Frankly, I say to you there is no HOPE! (pun intended)

the prof

January 26th, 2012
1:37 pm

Merit only or I start voting Republican!


January 26th, 2012
1:49 pm

I’ve said it before…

Since gambling ain’t paying the way for the suburban kids to go to UGA anymore, we need to turn to state-sponsored pimping, whoring and crack dealing. There is so much money to be taken from the poor in this state and we just let it slip away.