Governor Deal’s HOPE plan sounds pretty good to me

Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal for putting the HOPE scholarship on sound financial footing came a little closer than I expected to the idea I floated a few days ago.

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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65 comments Add your comment


February 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

I like anything that makes liberals scream – like this did!!!


February 22nd, 2011
1:20 pm

The Board of Regents needs to tread carefully on tuition increases in the next few years. College teachers can take a salary cut as well as anyone else.

I would still like to see the HOPE award tied to actually obtaining a degree. What are the numbers of those who take the award and then never obtain a degree? No degree should cause the HOPE award to revert to a loan to be repaid. We do not need to spend $16,000 on a student who drops out after 3 semesters and never obtains a degree.


February 22nd, 2011
2:01 pm

More and more colleges and universities are eliminating or reducing the influence of SAT scores on admission decisions because such scores been shown not to be a terribly reliable indicator of future college performance. In addition, studies have demonstrated that SAT scores are racially-biased:

In a state where public education financing relies primarily on local property taxes such that we have unequal education systems throughout, we should not add insult to injury by using unreliable, racially-biased test scores to determine which students merit full tuition reimbursement.


February 22nd, 2011
2:02 pm


At Tech highest honor requires 3.55, high honor is 3.35 and honor is 3.15. The comparable numbers (I think) for UGA are 3.9, 3.7, and 3.5. It’s not an average but it gives you an idea.

Kyle Wingfield

February 22nd, 2011
2:10 pm

CJ, I didn’t ask the governor why he wants an SAT/ACT score tied to the higher scholarship amount. But my reason for supporting it is that it acts as a check on grade inflation in high schools by helping to confirm that a student’s GPA is legitimate.

Now, as for the racial-bias thing: As far as I’m aware, the far more common accusation is that the SAT favors students from wealthier families (which can afford things like test-prep courses and materials). And also as far as I’m aware, such accusations are not commonly leveled at the ACT, which of course would also qualify a student for a Miller scholarship.


February 22nd, 2011
2:19 pm

I think that it is as fair a change as could be made. The biggest reason that this is necessary at all is that The Board of Regents, and state colleges and universities have raised tuition by over 150% in TEN YEARS. Google it. The University of Georgia has had one of the highest increases in tuition of comparable colleges in the nation.

IMHO, this is due to two things: The HOPE scholarship and and the willingness of student to borrow into oblivion. Well, the borrowing is over and HOPE will no longer be tied to the whim of tuition increases. It is time for state colleges and universities to limit their increases to the rate of inflation. It is time for the ivory towers of education in the State of Georgia to come down to earth and figure out how to run a university system without gouging students.


February 22nd, 2011
2:20 pm

How about a plan that requires a 3.0 average and graduation? If the student does not earn a degree, they must pay back in full all of the HOPE money.

that's goofy

February 22nd, 2011
2:36 pm

let’s split it – 3.25 and graduation in 5 years to be eligible for HOPE, After 5 years it becomes a loan. The other thing to keep in mind: college is a privilege – not a right. If I could work my way through college so can others.

Libby – Hope isn’t a “liberal” thing – the screaming came from parents and students looking at actually having to pay for school.


February 22nd, 2011
3:20 pm

No one, including Kyle, does not see the fallacy of the Lottery; it’s another failed big-government program. But what makes the Lottery even worse, is it is fundamentally immoral. It exploits the poor by targeting sales of lottery tickets and scratch-offs to the lower classes, particularly minorities, so mostly middle and upper income students can go to college. Sure, the Legislature will make tweaks along the way to temporarily fortify the program in the near term, but as with Social Security it to will come tumbling down in the future. The best thing to do is roll back the Lottery over seven years or so, and let parents fully deduct college savings from their income taxes. And maybe use some of the Lottery proceeds to fund a voucher program for parents. Also parents need to demonstrate like those Wisconsin state workers the next time the BOR decides to raise tuition. The BOR has been less reluctant to keep tuition affordable since we had the HOPE.

Tychus Findlay

February 22nd, 2011
3:26 pm

The lottery is a voluntary tax that redistributes wealth from those who generally have none to others that generally have none. The HOPE is a byproduct of a voluntary tax. To claim that it maliciously exploits the poor is to say that they poor are foolish for volunteering to pay the tax and to further claim minorities are further victimized is simply stereotypical.

Logical Dude

February 22nd, 2011
3:38 pm

Hi Kyle,
Do you actually have a summary of how Deal’s changes compares to the former HOPE scholarship? I read your piece and don’t actually see what changes you agree with or disagree with (other than the 3.5 GPA in college).
I’m not sure if this was an oversight or poor editing, but from the headline, it sounds like you would clearly state what changes you agree with.
I do agree with your GPA item, though. It discourages the tougher classes and majors in college.


February 22nd, 2011
3:39 pm

As I used to tell my kids while looking at Summerhill from the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, the lottery is a tax that takes money from that neighborhood and buys computers in our neighborhood.
I don’t play the lottery.
I don’t think the lottery is good for GA.


February 22nd, 2011
3:43 pm

What is the percentage of students who are granted HOPE but never graduate? Where in this plan are they willing to tackle higher education costs that are out of control? Book costs that are out of control? Seems to me these should also be part of the equation!


February 22nd, 2011
3:47 pm

Always picking on the nerds!
How about the athletes on full boat scholarships keeping a 2.7 GPA?
The state needs to means test awards to stretch the fund
They need to drop all aid that is not to state colleges
State colleges need to restrict increases in tuition to no more than COL/inflation; they need to reduce activity and athletic fees; they need to have solid deliverable schedules for student to earn degrees in the standard four years
They need to do a lot of practical common sense things; but instead they will tweak some number that will be the new inflation level of the southern tiger mom…


February 22nd, 2011
3:51 pm

Mr. Findlay, the lottery is gambling for people who are bad at math

Tychus Findlay

February 22nd, 2011
3:56 pm

Findog, you are correct. They’re the same people that think roulette wheels and dice have memory. LOL.

Kyle Wingfield

February 22nd, 2011
3:58 pm

Logical Dude: You can find a summary in an AJC news story by clicking the first link in my post. I wasn’t going to repeat all that here. What I was saying was that I agree with the proposal as a whole, minus that exception I noted and barring any surprises tucked into the actual legislative text.


February 22nd, 2011
4:29 pm

I’m currently a freshman at UGA and maintaing a 3.5 GPA here is EXTREMELY difficult here. I graduated high school with a 4.11 GPA and a 29 ACT score and I still only received a 3.12 last semester, and that’s not from a lack of trying. UGA, GT, & Emory students should be able to have lower GPAs and still maintain HOPE since these schools are considerably more challenging then the rest of schools in Georgia.


February 22nd, 2011
4:39 pm

Joe, I feel for you. My first semester at Penn was tough too, but mostly because I was more interested in killing brain cells with alcohol and bong resin than studying. After a 2.2 my first semester I wound up graduating with a 3.5, and dare I say Penn is tougher than UGA.


February 22nd, 2011
5:17 pm

Keeping a 3.5 at Georgia Tech in engineering is very tough. Very. I guess this will do nothing but help the new engineering programs at UGA more appealing and keep GATech stocked with out of state kids and international students.


February 22nd, 2011
5:22 pm

Joe, college isn’t that hard. I believe some of the smaller Georgia schools have curriculums just as tough as the three you mentioned.

I like the new plan. Having a 3.0 in high school is EASY these days, and I don’t think it merits a full ride to college. The low GPA requirements are part of the reason, I think, that a good number of HOPE recipients don’t graduate college.

I’ve been out of college less than two years, so I’m not just pulling all of this out of nowhere.


February 22nd, 2011
5:48 pm

My child is a 7th-grader and I currently have $30k in his college fund. I also contribute fully to my 401k and other savings for retirement. You see, I have absolutely no intention of counting on HOPE or Social Security or anything else from the government. If HOPE (or another scholarship) is there for my child when the time comes then that is great….if not, he can still go to college without putting himself in extreme debt. I paid my way through college twice and then law school with minimal loans and part-time jobs, but given the tuition increases in the past 10 years or so I just don’t see how that can be done nowadays. Good luck to all students and their parents.


February 22nd, 2011
5:57 pm

A component of the bill that is going to get a lot of backlash is the provision allowing new HOPE recipients (i.e high school kids) to qualify for full tuition while current college students, even those with a 4.0, can no longer qualify for full tuition. This seems to me the opposite of what should happen. The top-performing college students should be grandfathered in, not the high school students who have yet to make the grades in college.

Kyle Wingfield

February 22nd, 2011
6:10 pm

blackbird: Deal said this morning that current college students who met the new requirements as high schoolers would be eligible for the full-tuition scholarship. Presumably, they would also need to meet the requirement(s) for keeping it.


February 22nd, 2011
6:21 pm

They really will need to weight the GPAs at Tech and UGA and probably by area of study as well. Its a lot harder to keep a 3.5 in nuclear engineering than it is in say, Spanish literature at a community college.


February 22nd, 2011
6:31 pm

As usual, the politicians cut benefits but not salaries or reduce staff. A ceiling of paying a max 25% bonus is ridiculous. Where are the press investigators who look into what these lottery employees are being paid and ask why they are not taking a reduced salary. PS – I have no kids in college and none in the future to attend. Just tired of the BS!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by micah smith, shelurklate. shelurklate said: <<< article on HOPE requirements. [...]

The other Joe

February 22nd, 2011
7:23 pm

Joe, you said: “UGA, GT, & Emory students should be able to have lower GPAs and still maintain HOPE since these schools are considerably more challenging then the rest of schools in Georgia.”

IF you’ve only been a student at UGA, how would you know this? I graduated from UGA and now teach at a state college in Georgia. There isn’t that much of a difference. Get over yourself.


February 22nd, 2011
7:28 pm

Kyle, I am surprised that you could support the loan program as it will require additional jobs devoted to running, evaluating, collecting, etc., the program. In addition, how can you support coming up with an additional $20 million from such a tight budget to finance it? And, how do you think the $10 million can be pried from the pockets of the donors? Maybe some special tax incentives, like that private school scholarship fund which gives a dollar for dollar tax write-off? And what happens when student default? The taxpayers pay! How could any “conservative” support this?

Rafe Hollister

February 22nd, 2011
7:57 pm

I see grade inflation in High School and College, just as there has been for years, in order to qualify for and keep the Hope.

The Colleges took advantage of the fact that as long as the students got the full Hope, the student nor their family cared about the cost of the tuition. Nothing in this messure punishes the colleges for their prior action nor deters them from continuing to escalate the cost of tuition.

My solution, keep the rules the same, divide the money the poor contribute toward education equally among those qualified to earn or keep the Hope. How do you tell a HS senior that the rules have changed, now you need to bring your 4 year average up to the new standard in one semester?

I believe the Colleges will only hold down tuition, when the number of Students start declining. Students are unfortunately learning that all that debt they pile up is not paying off, as a College degree today is not that marketable. Hundreds of people out there for every job, many with years of experience, needing no training. Who is hiring college grads and paying for years of training these days?


February 22nd, 2011
8:12 pm

Hope. That is exactly what we need today:
with a fed. deficit of over $14 T plus trillions more in unfunded liabilities,
with states at bankruptcy levels & with the fed. govt. placing more burdens on them,
with the fed. govt. borrowing over 40% of every dollar it spends & printing money it can’t borrow, causing massive inflation,
with a president who did not even address the federal deficit/debt/entitlements in his State of the Union Address & rather stressed spending even more money on high-speed rail & green jobs with money we do not have,
with a president who presented a budget with another $1.68 T deficit that will be added to the debt.,
with the probability that the debt ceiling will be lifted in a few days, adding even more to the debt, OR that the fed. govt. will be shut down OR that the fed. govt will loose its credit rating, thus sending the US into what is equivalent of bankruptcy,
with the fed. govt. restricting our using our own natural resources, forcing us to buy resources from countries who are on fire, causing our economy to spiral into a double-dip recession.
We are already turning into Greece & other European countries with the reining in of the public sectors unions. It is spreading from one state to the other.
May God have mercy on the US of America!


February 22nd, 2011
8:41 pm

Let’s, if you make a zillion dollars a year in Georgia and your kid has a “B” average, the state will pay 90% of the tuition. If you make $8000 dollars a year and your kid has a “B” average, the state will pay 90% of the tuition.

Sounds fair to me – got to protect those good old rich folks – that’s the republican party mantra!!!


February 22nd, 2011
8:58 pm

@Will – Uh, if you make $ 8000 /yr, then your EFC from the FAFSA form will be Zero, meaning you would get Pell grants and other financial aid that will not be offered to the ones who made a Zillion Dollars a year.

Hope is a merit “scholarship” program. It was intended as a reward for a student’s performance for the student not the parents.

What is the problem here?

February 22nd, 2011
9:38 pm

If you want HOPE to continue as it stands now, go support the cause and purchase a lottery ticket. Otherwise, don’t worry about it and save for your kids education. What is the BIG DEAL? Does anyone really think cutting the commission a retailer gets for cashing a winning ticket or changing the criteria for getting a scholarship is going to HELP promote selling tickets leading to an increase in revenue for HOPE? Lottery sales will decline and so will revenues to fund the program due to this legislation and we will all be paying more for tuition in the long run. Not to mention the small businesses that will go under due to the loss of 30% of their lottery revenues. Great plan for everyone!


February 22nd, 2011
9:51 pm

It’s not fair that those who are more capable have an advantage.


February 22nd, 2011
9:54 pm

Sounds like a broke, bankrupt Deal to me

One Nation Under educated

February 22nd, 2011
10:17 pm

Slouching toward Mississippi, Only Haiti, then Somalia to get to the bottom.
Goooooo Georgia! Hail yeah


February 22nd, 2011
10:25 pm

Boatfoot you are half right or half wrong depending on which way you look at it. The intent of the HOPE scholarship was intended to be a merit scholarship based upon need. I think the original intent was a B average to a family making $60000 or less.

stevie b.

February 22nd, 2011
10:32 pm

The problem I don’t see mentioned above is the excess fat in the state colleges. There are deans of this and that and every administrator seems to have at least one administrative assistant. There are professors who teach few classes seeming to hang on due to the “good old boy system.” A perfectly adequate Gwinnett branch of Perimeter College is closed (for racial control reasons) and Georgia Gwinnett College suddenly appears (at great expense to the taxpayers.) Thousands of wasted dollars are spent on new landscaping for the Dunwoody Campus of Georgia Perimeter (and many other campuses.) Quit wasting money and keep tuition costs down. That’s the answer.

Martin Williams

February 22nd, 2011
11:38 pm

Good if you come from a house hold making $500,000.00. Kyle did you average 3.7 in high school?


February 23rd, 2011
12:17 am

I think the HOPE changes may discourage a lot of students from entering more rigorous areas of study. For students in life science or engineering majors, keeping a 3.5 every semester can be extremely difficult when you are taking classes like calc 4 or organic chemistry. Like someone already said studying nuclear engineering is way harder than spanish at a community college. I wonder if there is any way to modify the gpa requirements based on field of study?


February 23rd, 2011
12:18 am

If a business raised prices 10-15 % every year they would be out of business. Public and state funded colleges need to justfy such increases or risk getting NO hope support. As enrollment falls off a clif I am sure they will control their costs. Why does a college need to spend 10 million to tear down their old Gym to build a new one. Its just a gym. Why; because they can. Its a supply and demand thing. But there is no way colleges can justify increases 3-4 times inflation.


February 23rd, 2011
12:18 am

Basically the HOPE will be given to so few…..the Republican’s can now rob the account.

What would I say that ?

Did the 400 Toll get shut down ? Republican’s say NO and Lie to Georgians!

This will be similar to how they are robbing the program that all have paid into for a clean environment…….. example.. tire recycling fees that we pay when buying new tires……. but the money was never used for that…just stolen and put in the general Budget.

Yes $25 Million plus collected and Less than $5 Million used for original idea ? Duhhhhhhhh

Republican’s don’t call these fees TAXES…..BUT that is all they are. Another lie to Georgians.

Seems allot of Lying from the Georgia Republican’s.

We all know the reason for the HOPE originally was to build a smarter Georgia with education funding for the poor………BUT NO Republican’s will make it a fund for only the smartest, who typically are the richest.

Screw the Poor……. they are not smart enough, in fact what percentages of kids with a 3.7 stays home in Georgia, and not go to some out of state much superior college ?

Please my friends kid just went to Columbia….she was smart, and they planned for it.

The joke is on the Georgia Family’s that just got screwed, cause “Family Values is what the Republican’s preach… they screw you !

But hey if you can lie on your application running for governor to Georgia, and get away with it….YOU must be a Republican !

Gotta love those Family Values !

How is voting Republican in Georgia now treating YOUR family’s with kids in schools these days ?

Me Be Learnin

February 23rd, 2011
12:28 am

While we’re looking into how to save the HOPE program, perhaps we should be looking into WHY collge tuition continues to skyrocket, even during a recession. It’s not like they are always putting up new buildings or sports arenas, and the dorms certainly are not modern. How can a university burn hundreds of million of dollars (ie, GSU alone is 31,500 undergrad students @ $3,500 tuition = $111,250,000) each and every year? And that’s a state school! Private schools run $17,5000 up to over $40,000 for tuition. My Alma MAtter is 20,000 students @ $30,000/yr – that’s %600,000,000 per year up in smoke! College is like the Federal Budget – money just disappears into think air.


February 23rd, 2011
1:06 am

Erin- When you say “college isn’t that hard,” it completely depends on what college you are attending and what your major is. Obviously GT is going to be harder than Georgia Southern and majoring in chemistry is going to be harder than majoring in education. However, I completely agree with getting a 3.0 gpa in high school is easy!

The other Joe- I would know that because UGA, GT, and Emory all have a lot higher average SAT/ACT Scores and higher average GPAs for students that get accepted compared to the rest of the schools. Also, UGA, GT, and Emory are the only schools in GA that make the Top 100 schools in the country. Get your facts right.


February 23rd, 2011
8:05 am

Joe, I think UGA/GT/Emory have higher average GPAs among the student population because a high GPA is required for acceptance. I went to North Georgia and I think they only required a 2.00 (this is spec, since I don’t remember exact) to get in. I finished with a 3.55 GPA, but that’s because I worked hard and didn’t slack. I’m sure that if I applied myself at UGA just as hard as I did at NGCSU, I could have ended up with a 3.55 there too. So with all due respect, I don’t think you can pin “harder curriculum” on UGA/GT/Emory just because the average SAT and GPA scores among the student population are higher than other schools.


February 23rd, 2011
8:10 am

Joe, I am with you on the major, but I don’t think HOPE should have different requirements for different majors. If you want the in-demand, high-paying job at the end of college, you just need to be prepared to do the work.

I agree with Dan about the GPAs. UGA, GT and Emory are just more popular when it comes to admissions. Once you get there, I think the curriculums are probably pretty even.

lynnie gal

February 23rd, 2011
9:03 am

This 3.7 idea guarantees that students will no longer sign up for difficult or challenging classes, and will eventually dumb down the curriculum. Which I guess is the point, since republicans have declared war on education and teachers everywhere. They are trying to guarantee their own political survival since their base are among the most ignorant in our population.


February 23rd, 2011
9:14 am

Lynnie…..You are correct…the Republican’s are all about an uneducated population, so they can spew the rhetoric garbage they do…..and the DUMB can go along with the lies.

Kyle Wingfield

February 23rd, 2011
9:47 am

@lynnie: Beginning with this fall’s high-school freshmen, future HOPE scholars will have to have taken “rigorous courses” to qualify for either the 90% benefit or the 100% benefit. And while “rigorous” is still to be defined, there’s every expectation that it will be tied to some kind of outside curriculum (such as AP or IB).