Senate Democrats on HOPE Scholarship

“Today is the end of the HOPE Scholarship as we know it,” said Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown.  “Governor Deal rejected the opportunity to give children from 94% of Georgia families full tuition for earning a 3.0 G.P.A. and instead used gambling dollars to help the wealthy do what they can already do for themselves: pay for a college education.”

During Senate debate of H.B. 326, Senate Democrats offered a paid-for plan that would give a full-tuition scholarship to all students who earned a 3.0 G.P.A. in high school and whose family earned less than $140,000 per year.  “The Senate had a clear choice, and unfortunately the Republican caucus chose to cut the HOPE Scholarship for almost everyone,” noted Senator Jason Carter.  “Next year, the HOPE Scholarship will cover only 80% of tuition and will likely continue to decrease over time.  Our students deserve better.”

Additionally, the Senate Democratic plan would provide students from families earning more than $140,000 a year a low interest loan to cover the cost of college.  “Our plan would have maximized the number of students who received a full HOPE Scholarship,” Carter said. “Under the Governor’s plan, there will be fewer students who can afford to go to college and we will have fewer college graduates.”

Emory professor Devin Fergus and Georgia State University professor Vincent Lloyd wrote last week that requirements in Governor Deal’s proposal would have a harsh impact on Georgia’s rural communities.  Their survey of the data showed that just 6.6% of students in Georgia’s 100 smallest counties would qualify for the Zell Miller Scholarship.[1]  They concluded that “our resources would be better directed at those thousands of students from rural Georgia and from working-class families whose lives will be dramatically changed for the worse if HOPE is taken away.”

Senators Brown and Carter called on Governor Nathan Deal to use lottery reserve funds to grandfather students currently receiving HOPE.  They are also planning to introduce and hold hearings on new legislation to ensure that the majority of students eligible for HOPE under the current standards will have full HOPE now and in the future.  “The funds are there for the state to keep its promise to current HOPE Scholars,” Senator Carter said.  “The Governor’s plan breaks that promise.”

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Sen. Robert Brown serves as Democratic Leader. He represents the 26th Senate District which includes Twiggs County and portions of Bibb, Houston, and Wilkinson counties.