When the Georgia lottery was voted on in 1992, one of the promises Gov. Zell Miller made was that lottery revenues would be spent on education. The HOPE Scholarship Program, which fully funds an education at state institutions for Georgia high school graduates and provides $1,500 to students attending private institutions, was one result of that promise.
Facets of the HOPE Scholarship Program have been under fire this year; among them has been the fact that students at state institutitons are required to maintain a "B" average to keep their scholarships. That requirement has not been made of students attending private institutions.
This year, Gov. Miller has made the following recommendations to the General Assembly appropriations committee:
*apply the "B or better" grade requirement to HOPE recipients attending private institutions beginning fall 1996
*increase the HOPE award to students attending private institutions from $1,500 to $3,000 beginning fall 1996
*beginning with the freshman high school class next fall, student grade point averages will be based on core curriculum course work (no electives) and will apply to students enrolling in public and private institutions in the year 2000
*the Tuition Equalization Grant will remain at $1,000 for the academic year 1996-97
*fully fund the HOPE reserve to ensure financial stability in future years.
Recommendations are in response to two key pressure points, according to Miller: First, lawmakers are demanding parity among public and private students regarding the grade requirement. Second, the governor and legislative budget writers anticipate that unless specific controls are placed on the growth of the number of HOPE recipients, lottery revenues will not adequately fund the program in the future.
A total of 1,262 Emory College students receive HOPE grants, according to Julia Perrault, director of the Office of Financial Aid, which means Emory students this year have received almost $2 million in HOPE grants. Excluding the first-time recipients (317) who do not have a full year of grades on the books, 401 of the recipients have less than the suggested GPA of 3.0. Perrault is careful to note, however, that there is still a great deal of speculation concerning who will be affected by the required GPA; discussions are under way at the state level that may result in current students being "grandfathered in," and the new requirement only affecting students who enroll at private institutions beginning this fall. At Oxford, 339 students currently are receiving HOPE grants, which represents 56 percent of the student population there.
Steve Moye, associate vice president for public affairs, said the bill is expected to come out of the House Appropriations Committee and go to the House floor in the next week; the Senate Appropriations Committee is still considering the bill.
-- Nancy M. Spitler