Less HOPE for those who contribute larger share of their income to the lottery

Communities most likely to buy lottery tickets get the least return from HOPE.  (AJC file)

Communities that buy lottery tickets at a high rate get the least return from HOPE, according to a new study. (AJC file)

Today’s guest entry is by Taifa S. Butler, deputy director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit providing research and analysis of the state budget and impact of policy decisions.

The institute released a report today on the HOPE Scholarship. The report — “HOPE for Whom: For Some it Doesn’t Pay to Play the Georgia Lottery” — outlines a few of HOPE’s shortcomings and builds a case for the necessity of HOPE reform. Read it here.

By Taifa S. Butler

Georgia’s commitment to graduate 250,000 more college students by 2020 is a worthy goal — and a necessary one if the state wants to remain competitive in an economy that increasingly requires knowledgeable, highly skilled workers.

Ensuring that Georgians can afford to attend universities and technical colleges is a critical component of this effort. Financial hardship is the No. 1 reason students leave school before earning a degree or certificate.

Georgia’s HOPE scholarships and grants offer a solution. But they must be invested in a way that yields the greatest return to college students and their future employers. That’s not the case today.

Most HOPE benefits flow to students from upper-income families, rather than from those who can least afford a college education. Moreover, recent changes to HOPE make it more difficult to qualify for grants for Georgians attending technical colleges — the very people most in demand by employers.

Policymakers must mend HOPE’s shortcomings to grow Georgia’s economy by creating a highly skilled workforce that will attract new industry and jobs.

Based on projections that more than 60 percent of all jobs in Georgia will require a post-secondary degree by 2018, we are far from ready. Only 34 percent of Georgians have an associate’s degree or higher, and with just 44 percent of college students completing a degree program within six years, the state will be hard pressed to meet its 2020 goal.

One important step the state can take to reverse these trends is to lower financial barriers to college for more Georgians by taking income into consideration when awarding HOPE grants and scholarships.

As things now stand, households in counties with the lowest median incomes receive the smallest share of HOPE benefits, even though they contribute a larger share of their income to the Lottery proceeds that fund HOPE.

The opposite is true for households with the highest incomes: They get the largest share of HOPE awards but spend a smaller share of their income on the Lottery, which, for all intents and purposes, is a voluntary tax.

This is both unfair and a bad investment decision by the state. It would make far more sense to focus limited HOPE resources on those students who otherwise cannot afford to attend a college or technical school. That would help the state’s economy more than sending most of the grants and scholarships to students who are likely to be able to pay for a higher education through other means.

Georgia policymakers should also reverse their decision to raise the grade-point average that students must achieve to qualify for HOPE grants to technical colleges. The change has already stripped grants from 4,200 Georgians.

Again, this disproportionately hurts low- and moderate-income families who struggle to afford college. Seven of 10 students from counties with low-median incomes are more likely to attend less-expensive technical colleges than universities. These students have greater opportunities to meet business demands because of the technical skills they learn and their subsequent high rate of job placement. Making it more difficult for them to get HOPE grants is counterproductive.

A HOPE program that takes income into consideration, as well as increased HOPE investments in technical education, is a smart business decision. Without these reforms Georgia will be stuck with the status quo of low college graduation rates and will never grow its workforce to the level necessary to make the state an attractive place to do business in the 21st century.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

53 comments Add your comment

[...] As posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution [...]

[...] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution features GBPI Deputy Director Taifa Butler’s Op-ed on HOPE’s shortcomings and the necessity of HOPE reform.Read the Essay. [...]


April 16th, 2012
5:51 am

The prices these universities charge is ridiculous, best alternatives to this brick and mortar universities is something called High Speed Universities they charge much less


April 16th, 2012
5:54 am

Grade point average is the most important factor. Students with the highest grades are likely to finish college being able to read.


April 16th, 2012
6:07 am

This argument is rather absurd. The lottery is not a 401k. The lottery is not an investment.The lottery is certainly not a college fund.

The problem being posed ( despite a misleading title ) is that people “who can least afford a college education” are spending money on the lottery. The author then seems to argue that this isn’t a problem with those buying tickets, as I saw no complaints about financially sound decisions or academic achievements, but with the HOPE system itself!

God Bless the Teacher!

April 16th, 2012
6:20 am

“Based on projections that more than 60 percent of all jobs in Georgia will require a post-secondary degree by 2018, we are far from ready.” What type of degrees fall in the 60% mentioned? Are these all four-year and/or graduate degrees, or does this figure include associate degrees and 2- and 4-year degrees from technical schools? Most technical schools and 2-year colleges in the USG are much less expensive to attend than large research universities. Seems to me we could get more bang for our buck by paying for more students to attend said schools instead of heaping HOPE funds on rich kids going to legacy schools.


April 16th, 2012
6:43 am

Ahhh, the tried and true “disproportionate share” argument. Before you get all high and mighty from your ivory tower lecture hall, you need to address the following:

1. Where is the original education budget and what has the lottery money been spent on?
2. If all you need is a B average in HS and college to keep the scholarship, AND the discovery that grades have been inflated, AND the blighted communities STILL can’t get a grade that gets them a scholarship, why should those who do get the grades be punished?
3. If we’re trying to educate kids that the only thing that matters is not your race or gender but what you are as an individual, punishing a child who gets the grades is not the way to reinforce our —-blind society that were striving for.
4. If we can’t makeover our needs educationally with our original budget and the windfall from the lotteries, annual increases of tuition in 5-15% bracket, then it not because of money. It’s a system-wide organizational problem.

drew (former teacher)

April 16th, 2012
6:43 am

“This is both unfair and a bad investment decision by the state.”

Wrong…this is a bad investment decision by those who spend an inordinate amount of their income on lottery tickets.

Hope is available to all who meet the criteria, regardless of parental income. You can’t legislate or control WHO purchases lottery tickets. And if low income parents want to purchase the bulk of lottery tickets, those using Hope we’ll be more than happy to take their money. It really is a tax on the stupid and the lazy. So get busy scratching those tickets all you poor folks….rich kids got to go to college.

Pardon My Blog

April 16th, 2012
6:57 am

Unfortunately it appears that Ms. Butler is trying to promote a certain agenda put forth by the Black Legislators. If that group had their way, HOPE would become another entitlement program for a certain ethnic group irregardless of the qualifications of the student. Students in need of assistance come from all ethnic backgrounds as well as upper-income students.

HOPE should continue to be based on the scholastic achievements of the student and their ability to succeed with post-high school education whether at a four-year college or at a technical school. The biggest waste comes from fraud stemming from out of state students moving to GA for their senior year in order to be eligible, illegals receiving money, and students who are receiving inflated grades in order to boost graduation and eligibility.

Should a sliding scale be implemented for income eligibility? Perhaps, but the student should meet certain academic requirements first (skill level eligibility for technical school) and then go from there.

Poor Boy from Alabama

April 16th, 2012
6:59 am

Less than 60% of undergraduate college students graduate within six years according to various sources, including the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Reasonable people can disagree about why this is, but Ms. Butler needs to make the case that allocating scholarships based upon something other than academic achievement is a good idea.

Here are some things we do know:

1. According to the ACT, only 25% of high school graduates meet their benchmarks for college readiness in English, Reading, Math, and Science. (See “The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2011″).

2. Harvard’s Graduate School of Education says that the US has higher college dropout rates than that of any other industrialized country (See “Pathways to Prosperity” from February 2011). They mention several possible factors (e.g., under-preparation for the required academic work, financial pressures, competing claims of family and jobs, etc.). They go on to say, “too many can’t see a clear, transparent connection between their program of study and tangible opportunities in the labor market.”

Georgia and the nation as a whole will need more highly skilled workers if we want to maintain our competitiveness in the global marketplace. As a taxpayer, I’d like to see merit be the primary driver for the awarding of HOPE scholarships. We should allocate our precious resources to those most likely to succeed.


April 16th, 2012
7:04 am

If one wants to go to college and his or her family can’t afford it, then he or she should figure out another way. Attend the Military first, then college on the G.I. Bill. Or apply for school loans and then go, or work several jobs and pay as one goes. College should by no means be for everyone nor should it be an entitlement program. It used to be a big deal for a person to attend and graduate college. Now, having a college degree doesn’t seem to mean as much as it used to.


April 16th, 2012
7:08 am

With all due respect, the state is already a great place to do business because of the “favorable” corporate climate (taxes, regulations, etc).

I am really not so worried about the equity part–buying a lottery ticket is a personal choice. I have a friend who spends up to $20 per week on tickets. This is a person with NO discretionary income, but she still chooses to use her money that way. My salary does allow some discretionary spending, but I have bought a total of 2 tickets in these last 20 year. Personal choices don’t mean good choices.

Ms. Downey, could someone address the article from Sunday’s paper? I would ask for a fact check on the fact I have mentioned so many times here–that initially the HOPE had a negative income cap–that kids who got Pell and went to public colleges (not tech schools–don’t know about them) were not eligible for HOPE, no matter how stellar their grades? Which sort of debunks the myth that HOPE was to make it possible for poor kids to go to college–the first 3-4 years it did NOT do that!

Joe Frank

April 16th, 2012
7:27 am

The HOPE that georgians voted on, and was implemented promised scholarships to those that could least aford it and made the grades. It was to attend PUBLIC schools in Georgia.
We added Pre-K in a political move. We added private schools in a political move. We took down the income requirment in a political move. (It allowed those kids to get there HOPE cars!)
See the trend? Take POLITICS out of HOPE and it will work fine!


April 16th, 2012
7:30 am

The pre- K program is the one that needs to take income into consideration, not the HOPE program.
Four year olds are the legal responsibility of their parents, college students are not.

My daughters have all worked since they were 16. Our income is good but we also have fairly high medical expenses due to a couple of chronic illnesses. We do not have money to spend on the latest Apple products or a data cell phone plan. However, one of them tells me of a friend who receives HOPE and about a $5,000 Pell grant each year. This friend somehow has the funds to buy an iPhone, Apple computer and other such “luxury” items. And won’t shop at Wal-mart!! Apparently people either lie or don’t disclose all sources of income on FAFSA. Or maybe it’s all on a credit card and they will eventually file for bankruptcy.


April 16th, 2012
8:04 am

stats show that hope returns funds to students in scholarships by county in about the same proportion as people in the county spend on lottery.

Whatever Happened to Low Cost Public Education

April 16th, 2012
8:04 am

The least we could do is educate those in most need (that also provide most of the lottery funds) such that they can convince themselves, if nothing else, to not waste their few dollars sending other’s children with more means to school. Thank you, Ms. Downey for trying to get the word out. If we truly need lottery funds in order to make sure our children get a decent education, then doesn’t that say that what we really need is a more equitable system of taxing everyone in order to pay for that education. The lottery, whether by design or by accident, has become a perverse means of taxing the poor (through the deception of hope) and distributing that tax money to the wealthy.

It's Simple Really

April 16th, 2012
8:06 am

If the intention is to prepare as many young adults as possible for the future labor force, as the author claims, then turn HOPE into a reimbursement program. Student goes to Georgia college or technical school and is reimbursed for every semester that he or she maintains a B+ average. Student is motivated. HOPE doesn’t pay for party semesters. It’s 100% merit and achievement based. Everybody wins.

Why bring class into it as the students are not responsible for their parents’ life decisions.


April 16th, 2012
8:08 am

I am so, so tired of the “we have to take care of the poor because they can’t take care of themselves” argument when it comes to the lottery.

Here is a newsflash: you can’t legislate how people legally spend their money any more than you can legislate good parenting.

And here’s another: the government has been taking money from the “haves” to redistribute it to the “have-nots” for a long, long time through property and income taxes. Most of those who receive government services pay not one red cent into the system that takes care of them.

It doesn’t bother me a bit that some choose to spend their money unwisely to the benefit of others. At least they have a choice in the matter…I certainly don’t when it comes to my taxes and how they are spent.

bootney farnsworth

April 16th, 2012
8:14 am

perhaps the poor stay poor because they spend money on the lottery
or the latest Air Jordans
or their tats
or their bling

which should go into savings instead

bootney farnsworth

April 16th, 2012
8:17 am

there is nothing “nonpartisian” in her load of crap.

this is the same tired class warfare crap with a heaping
helping of implied racebaiting as a garnish


April 16th, 2012
8:29 am

As things now stand, households in counties with the lowest median incomes receive the smallest share of HOPE benefits, even though they contribute a larger share of their income to the Lottery proceeds that fund HOPE.
The opposite is true for households with the highest incomes: They get the largest share of HOPE awards but spend a smaller share of their income on the Lottery, which, for all intents and purposes, is a voluntary tax.
This is both unfair and a bad investment decision by the state.

1) Your right . It is a voluntary tax. If you can’t afford it ,do not buy a ticket. No one puts a gun to your head.

2) However, my taxes are not voluntary. Even though I pay 80% of the budget, I only receive 20% of the services. Is that fair? And the IRS does put a gun to my head to pay those taxes.

Whatever Happened to Low Cost Public Education

April 16th, 2012
8:33 am

Further, if the people that spend the most on lottery tickets were to come here and read comments from some of the people posting here, perhaps that would give them incentive to stop wasting their money on lottery tickets. I think it is truly sad when people think they are entitled to lottery proceeds taken by deception (yes, some people, the less educated people, actually believe they have a good chance of getting struck by an asteroid twice in one day) from those most in need. I think a nice side by side comparison would be to take all the lottery expenditures and divide that up amongst those that play the lottery and compare that number to the amount that is spent on them after paying out the prizes and the overhead and the advertising and the executive pay, etc. The poor, the ones that most support the lottery, are the ones getting screwed and some people, based on their posts, apparently seem to think that is a good thing. We do need a better system. One that at least returns more lottery funds to communities that actually spent the money in pursuit of a fantasy in the first place.


April 16th, 2012
8:38 am

The federal government does have an income based entitlement program for all students. Students with family incomes up to $60,000 may be eligible for Pell Grants. However, most Pell awards go to students with family incomes below $30,000. There is no charge to apply for a Federal Pell Grant. Pell Grants are based on a formula that is applied in the same manner to all applicants. The formula is revised and approved each year by the U.S. Congress. The actual award a student receives depends on a number of factors including: The price of attendance, the family’s financial situation, family size, whether the student is attending full-time or part-time.

If you are talking about the investment of HOPE then lets view the students as an investment as well, if a student regardles of race or financial situation did not apply themselves enough to maintain a B-average in HS to qualify for HOPE then why say we need to invest in them even more for them to lose the HOPE after one-semester of college for that same lack of drive. You want to turn HOPE into a redundant entitlement program in order to offer the people who dont strive to achieve another excuse to slack off and do only the minimum.

We are a 2 income family that disqualifys us from any income based entitlement program for our children, we sit in that gray middle class area where you are too “rich” for one but too “poor” for a full out of pocket coverage of college tuition. So what do we do, we encourage our children to work harder and achieve more since they have to compete for the scholorships so that they can go to college.

Lets not forget that there is still personal responsibility for people to work for something they want. If they want a degree they will work for it, if they are not driven to succeed then they will continue to live the way that have been. Spending their money on the lottery hoping for the easy way out and not investing it in their future.

Another view

April 16th, 2012
8:53 am

The answer to this is quite simple. End the HOPE program. In exchange, distribute the money directly to the universities by %. The lowest technical schools, 2 year colleges, and low tier four year universities would receive 80% of lottery proceeds. This money would be used to lower tuition. UGA, GSU, and GA Tech would split the remaining 20% of lottery funds, also used to lower tuition costs. Now you lower college costs for the people who need it most, and do so in a way were the economy directly benefits from the tech students.

Mountain Man

April 16th, 2012
8:56 am

The reason that “60 percent of all jobs in Georgia will require a post-secondary degree by 2018″ is that graduating from a Georgia High School doesn’t mean anything, certainly not that you can read, write and do simple math. When companies hire a person, they want to be sure they have certain basic skills – that is why more college is now required. Heaven help those that drop out of high school, since a lot of businesses now require high school diplomas or GEDs just for the most menial jobs.

The success and acceptance of HOPE has been because it is a broad, scholarship-based program, not just another needs-based program. The problem has been that state support of colleges and universities has dwindled with HOPE money coming in, so students have seen enormous increases in tuition costs. THAT is the real issue for those who want to go to college but are below HOPE level.


April 16th, 2012
9:06 am

“As things now stand, households in counties with the lowest median incomes receive the smallest share of HOPE benefits, even though they contribute a larger share of their income to the Lottery proceeds that fund HOPE.

The opposite is true for households with the highest incomes: They get the largest share of HOPE awards but spend a smaller share of their income on the Lottery, which, for all intents and purposes, is a voluntary tax.

This is both unfair and a bad investment decision by the state. It would make far more sense to focus limited HOPE resources on those students who otherwise cannot afford to attend a college or technical school. That would help the state’s economy more than sending most of the grants and scholarships to students who are likely to be able to pay for a higher education through other means.”

The problem is not that there are masses of college-ready kids in the counties with the lowest income who are yearning to go to college but just don’t have the money. The problem is that these counties failed from K-12 to prepare these kids to go to college.


April 16th, 2012
9:07 am

“This is both unfair and a bad investment decision by the state.”

Good God another lame attempt at class warfare. Ms. Butler needs to focus on cleaning up the crappy schools in Henry COunty before she tells the rets of us how the state shoudl do it.

She fails to mention the net gain in this state by graduates moving here from other states to obtain employment.

She fails that if the “evil rich kids” who have earned HOPE but are now denied it will go out-of-state to other schools.


April 16th, 2012
9:07 am

Yes, let’s make it need based. Our son has already been accepted out of state with a scholarship. He was, of course, accepted to UGA also. With all this talk of taking HOPE away from the “evil rich,” he has decided that the environment in Georgia is not conducive to his interests and abilities and is out of here. Do you think he will decide to return here to create jobs? I’d say no. Will his kids go to school in Georgia one day? Probably not.

Free the achievers and future job creators! Take HOPE away so these kids can leave the HOPE shackles behind get the heck out of Georgia without feeling guilty about it! Let’s just fill the state with mediocre tech school graduates and let other states have the big talent with big resources, you know … the people who end up actually creating jobs for the tech school grads.

Within a few years UGA and the states second tier colleges will return to their pre-HOPE reputation. That will be just wonderful because then anyone with a C average and a pulse will get a UGA degree…. just like in the 1980s.

That’s a great idea, Taifa.


April 16th, 2012
9:11 am

The best way to insure that a college education is within reach of all students is to quit tacking on fees for imaginary reasons. My child’s yearly college bill has increase from her freshman year, a little over $12,000 to over $19,000 this year (junior year). Also, seniors have always been excluded from having to buy a meal plan, but next year she said she will be required to have one even though she provides most of her meals at her apartment. She is also attending a 5 week semester this summer and is having to pay the same amount of fees as she does for a 4 month semester. Something is very wrong here.


April 16th, 2012
9:16 am

Class envy not only makes a person look so small but sends the wrong message. If you are poor then you are not smart enough to make it. If you are poor then you are inferior to rich people. Is this the message you libs really want to be sending?


April 16th, 2012
9:17 am

Has anyone else noticed that when Georgia went from multi-million dollar jackpot payouts to the current “Win for Life” $1000. per week payout that revenues dropped? It’s easier to sell a multi-million dollar dream than a $52,000 a year dream.

the prof

April 16th, 2012
9:19 am

Hmmmm…..10% of $16,000 per year equals $1,600. 3% of $100,000 per year equals $3,000…..


April 16th, 2012
9:35 am

The fact is that HOPE has permitted the Legislature to strip the USG budget under political cover. Now that they have effectively diverted the stream of lottery money into the general fund by forcing the enormous tuition and fee increases that have drained HOPE, their sleight of hand is exposed. Given that the Legislature will never put the education budget back – not enough of their personal sponsors get paid off that way, and it is FAR more important to politicians to give away special tax treatment favors than to finance a kid’s education – the HOPE resource needs to be used in the most effective way possible. First, no more endless cost-shifting: The USG needs to be held to increasing the total (tuition, fees, R&B) attendance cost by no more than the rate of inflation. If that means that building projects are put off and that administrative bloat gets cut, so much the better. Next, make HOPE a reimbursement system. The greatest waste in the HOPE system, after the legislators’ siphoning, is funding the ‘party year’ for the students who cannot or choose not to succeed academically.

On the other hand, the greatest benefit to the state is retaining those students who are serious about succeeding, rather than losing them to better offers in other states. I have never seen a study of what characteristics are common among students who graduate with high GPAs within their HOPE-allotted time. Those students should be identified and invested in, regardless of where they come from or their family background.

Ms. Butler’s essay purports to offer a way to use HOPE to “invest in a way that yields the greatest return to college students and their future employers”, but she offers no evidence, not a shred, to indicate that directing HOPE funds to the low-GPA, low socioeconomic students will result in greater success in college or better employees post-college. It is just another attempt to turn HOPE into another entitlement fund, to go along with Pell grants and the vast majority of scholarships that are only available to minority and/or low income candidates. To do so, she wants to turn the voluntary tax of the lottery into an involuntary tax in the form of higher college costs to the parents of students deemed sufficiently well off to pay them. Her suggestion is discriminatory and ultimately counterproductive to the goal of investing in the highest-potential students.


April 16th, 2012
9:36 am

If we defaulted to Ms. Butler to decide on who gets HOPE & who doesn’t, she would let every student at schools like this to receive HOPE:

“At College Park’s Banneker High, among Fulton County’s lowest performers, the graduation rate dropped sharply, from the 67.3 percent shown on the school’s accountability report for last year to about 42 percent under the new criteria.”


April 16th, 2012
9:50 am

My son was accepted out of state, and he is headed there. It has become crystal clear that the environment in Georgia is changing and that they are no longer interested in kids of his ability level and resources. Opportunity is far better outside of Georgia and it seems clear that the socialists will not rest until HOPE is an entitlement program rather than a reward for excellence.

I say go ahead and make HOPE needs based, then kids with ability and resources can head out of state (as they did before HOPE) without feeling guilty that they are leaving money on the table. Georgia can become a great mecca of technical school graduates with mediocre credentials who cannot find job because all the job creators headed out of state for college…… and seeing that the grass is in fact greener outside of Georgia… stayed out of state.

And UGA can return to its former “glory” of the 1980s and earlier when all that was needed to get in was a pulse.


April 16th, 2012
9:54 am

Maybe the proper argument is this one: The state shouldn’t be doing all this advertising to get their poorest citizens to make a bad investment in the lottery, money that could be put to more valuable uses. The state spends its money to promote gambling addictions.

Jane W.

April 16th, 2012
10:13 am

Lotteries designed “to help the needy” are a cruel hoax, as was pointed out from the lottery’s beginning. In a society such as ours, opportunities for social advancement abound. Those who fail economically almost always have only themselves and their poor choices in life to blame.

The lottery adds yet another convenient opportunity for life’s losers to make poor choices. Several times per week.


April 16th, 2012
10:16 am

Then untie the HOPE scholarship from the lottery and see how fast the Hope scholarship falls…\

Mountain Man

April 16th, 2012
10:22 am

“The lottery adds yet another convenient opportunity for life’s losers to make poor choices. Several times per week.”

The opportunities for making poor choices are all around us every day and are endless. Don’t blame the lottery. If it isn’t the lottery, they could be gambling on football games, poker nights, pitching coins, dog (or cock) fighting. Or it could be drugs, prostitutes, or simply living beyond the means.

At least the lottery channels some of that money back into society by advancing those who achieve.

A Conservative Voice

April 16th, 2012
10:23 am

I’ve got a great idea……”why don’t we just get rid of the d*** thing. Let’s go back to the days before the lottery……that way we can cut out all the bickering and the “you got more that I did” mentality. This way, everybody is even, just like it was. Folks, you’re running this into the ground……you’re “killing the goose that laid the golden egg”…..leave it alone, i. e., “shut up about it”.


April 16th, 2012
10:23 am

SO if Johnny gets a 3.0 and wants to go to UGA and Leroy gets a 3.0 and wants to go to UGA, will both be accepted and receive the sam exact amount of money.
Leroy will more than likely not get accepted.


April 16th, 2012
10:28 am

End HOPE completel. ,The evil rich won’t be able to take the poor’s money and the barriers will be removed, allowing the poor to become successful without being held back by the lottery. Oh, wait. Doesn’t work that way does it?

SUV Positive

April 16th, 2012
10:58 am

Enough with the rich vs. poor nonsense. Actual rich people don’t take HOPE money, because they wouldn’t deign to send their kids to a state school like UGA. What this mess really represents is a middle-class-who-pretend-they’re-rich vs. poor conflict.


April 16th, 2012
11:15 am

@Poor Boy from Alabama. More US kids drop out because more US kids have the opportunity to actually go to school beyond middle school. In those countries that are currently beating us in academics, only a small percentage of their population are able to get to secondary level schooling. Think of how much worse it would be in the US if you had to take an exam at the end of middle school that determined whether you got into High School or not, and if you didn’t pass your schooling ended at 14? Or that even if you made it, you would be battling against the families with the most money and influence?

William Casey

April 16th, 2012
11:26 am

Here are some TRUTHS about HOPE, Higher Education and the job market that we should consider:

1. Any lottery is simply a form of fantasy entertainment and not a moral issue. Money spent on lottery tickets is no more “wasted” than money spent on Falcons tickets, nights on the town or cable TV. Different socio-economic groups spend their money on different forms of entertainment. No big deal. This is called “freedom.”

2. Lottery tickets are a TAX that people WANT to pay. This is nothing less than brilliant.

3. HOPE was designed both to keep top-level students in Georgia AND make a college education more affordable for all students who qualify. It was never designed to pay ALL the costs associated with a college degree. Parents who didn’t (or couldn’t) begin saving for their children’s educations when they were born are now being squeezed or just plain out of luck. Ridiculous fee increases and textbook costs have made this worse.

4. Undergraduate students who live on campus have a much higher standard of living today than we had back in the ’60’s. I was amazed at the quality of dorm accommodations, food service, student activity centers, entertainment, etc. when I visited a Georgia University recently. I’m all for this, but it is expensive.

5. Higher Education is more than just a “job training” program though this is certainly important. Higher Education improves our society and the individual’s quality of life as well.

6. Many employers use having a college degree as a sorting mechanism to simply ensure that their employees have basic skills and perseverance. There are many jobs that don’t really require the knowledge/skills gained in college that employers now require a degree for to even get an interview. A high school diploma once served this function.

7. Many children of the relatively well-to-do use HOPE as an entitlement to have a couple of semesters of partying. Grade inflation at the secondary school level made this possible. This is pure waste. Some eventually get serious and finish college on their own dime. More never do. Making HOPE a reimbursement program for the first year would solve this problem.

8. Universities have made Higher Education less affordable by vastly increasing the number of and compensation for administrators who seldom, if ever, actually teach.

cranky old man

April 16th, 2012
11:50 am

I seriously doubt there are very many people out there who play the lottery because they feel it is their duty to support higher education. While that may be ONE of their reasons, it is secondary, at best.

If the goal of HOPE is to graduate the maximum number of college graduates in Georgia to feed the economic need for qualified workers, then the current system is probably the best option. By tying eligibility to grades, you are spending the money on the kids most likely to actually graduate. Is it unfair? Maybe. I guess you could come up with a system similar to medical triage. Concentrate first on those students most in need, but don’t waste time on the ones who have no hope of graduating.

Dekalb taxpayer

April 16th, 2012
12:25 pm

A person of any income level who buys a lottery ticket buys a chance, albeit an extremely small one, at a big payout of some kind. That’s all they are guaranteed—a chance, not college tuition for their children. HOPE funds should go to those students who are most likely to succeed in and graduate from college, regardless of the income of their parents. That is what is best in the long run for the state of Georgia.

Hope should go to preK

April 16th, 2012
2:13 pm

All Hope dollars should go to preK for all including after care.
If we really want to help the poor, whe are the ones buying the tickets, an early educatoin is the best chance they have of getting a real education and getting a job.
Forget Hope for college. The poor need help to learn so that they can qualify for college.

Ron F.

April 16th, 2012
3:59 pm

It must have worked well or they wouldn’t have had to redo the rules. Imagine that- Georgia had so many kids qualifying for Hope that they had to raise the requirements.

Problem is, they narrowed it on grades without also putting in an income cap. I agree that it should go to the deserving, but aren’t those the ones who are above Pell Grant level and below 250k a year? In the end, kids who make a 3.5 (which is a darn good average in high school) get less, just so the legislature didn’t tick off their wealthy donors with an income cap.


April 16th, 2012
7:21 pm

@William Casey
The difference is that the state is PROMOTING gambling addiction. They are promoting that the poor throw away their money. And there is no worse bet than the lottery. Everything else pays out better.

So it absolutely is a moral issue that the state is pushing behavior that hurts people. And it is addictive and encourages other gambling. Its one thing to allow gambling like states with horse tracks and casinos do. Its another thing for the state to actively promote a really, really bad bet. Lotteries usually pay out around 2/3. Horse tracks pay out in the 80s. Several casino games pay out in the upper 90s.