Deal, GA legislators spell out HOPE overhaul - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Deal, GA legislators spell out HOPE overhaul

ATLANTA (AP) - Gov. Nathan Deal wants top-performing Georgia high school students to receive free tuition at public colleges.

Deal on Tuesday outlined sweeping changes he is proposing to the state's lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which is struggling financially.

Under Deal's plan, students who earn at least a 3.7 grade point average and a 1,200 SAT score would continue to get free public college tuition.

Recipients would be called Zell Miller scholars - named after the former governor who created HOPE in 1993. For those students with at least a 3.0 grade point average, the grant would cover 90% of tuition.

Other changes to of note:

Pre-K

  • Georgia remains one of only four states to provide a universal Pre-K program
  • Adds 5,000 slots to address the Pre-K waiting list in the state. Currently there are around 9,000 on the waiting list in Georgia.
  • Increase of transportation funds
  • Increases extended day funds by 4.5 million, tripling the amount currently paid for these slots for at-risk students

HOPE Grant

  • Requires students to earn a 3.0 GPA by the first HOPE check point, once enrolled in technical college courses
  • Provides that students who already possess a postsecondary degree are ineligible to receive the HOPE Grant
  • Establishes a firm cap of 95 quarter hours or 63 semester hours for all students.

The Georgia Lottery Corporation

  • Limits bonuses awarded to Georgia Lottery Corporation employees to no more than 25 percent of their base compensation and conditions bonuses on an increase in net proceeds from the prior year transferred to the Lottery for Education Account.
  • Lowers the commission paid to lottery retailers from an average of 7 percent to not more than 5 percent on gross sales.

Need-Based Aid

  • HOPE Scholarship funds will be paid in full without taking Pell eligibility into account.  Pell-eligible students will then be able to use these federal funds to cover the costs of college-going expenses beyond tuition costs.
  • $20M will be appropriated to the one percent loan program and Georgia Student Finance Commission will work to raise private matching funds for $10M of this investment.  These student loans can also be forgiven altogether if loan recipients become certified and teach in a public K-12 school in the STEM field.  Each year of service in the classroom will forgive one year of the student loan. 

                                                                                   Source: Office of Georgia's Governor

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