I like the fact that HOPE — which is supposed to be a merit scholarship, after all — will cover the full cost of tuition for high-achieving students under a new program called the Zell Miller Scholarship.
We will have to see whether future tuition hikes hamper the state’s ability to keep paying all tuition for high-school graduates with a 3.7 GPA and 1200 SAT/26 ACT score who attend Georgia’s public universities. But we are, according to Deal this morning, talking about only the top 10 percent of HOPE scholars, who in turn represent roughly the top 40 percent of all Georgia high-school grads. So, the extra cost may not be too great.
One quibble with this aspect of the plan: the requirement to keep a 3.5 GPA in college.
These Zell Miller Scholarship recipients represent our best and brightest students — the ones we want to enter challenging fields and eventually tackle our toughest problems. We don’t want to discourage them from taking on difficult majors and classes just to keep their scholarships. That would be one heck of a negative unintended consequence.
Could we hold them to a higher standard than 3.0? Maybe. But I’d like to see some numbers on the average GPAs of students in disciplines such as engineering and the life sciences before that threshold is set at 3.5.
Beyond that, I’ll have to read through the actual text of the legislation and see if there’s anything untoward lurking within. But for now, the plan seems to be as good as one could reasonably expect.
The ball is now in the colleges’ court. How much of future tuition the new HOPE benefit covers, barring some unforeseen jump in lottery revenues, will be up to the University System of Georgia and the Board of Regents. So, there will be more of an outcry then before when they raise tuition rates — and more incentive for them to demonstrate they’re using every penny wisely.
– By Kyle Wingfield
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