Ga. Senate debates HOPE scholarship bill

ATLANTA (AP) - The Georgia Senate is debating a bill dramatically overhauling the HOPE scholarship program.

The bill is part of Gov. Nathan Deal's plan to rein in spending on cash-strapped lottery programs like HOPE and prekindergarten.

The bill would cut scholarships for all but the state's highest-scoring students. It also would eliminate payments for books, fees and remedial classes.

Awards would be set each year by the Legislature rather than being tied to tuition rates.

Democrats have said the bill is unfair to poor and minority students and the Lottery Corp. should give more money to education coffers before the awards are cut.

A group of college students protesting the bill interrupted Tuesday's debate, chanting "Kill the bill!" in the Senate gallery. They were escorted out by Capitol police.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)