Abandon all HOPE?

There has been a lot of hubbub over Georgia’s HOPE scholarship. On Monday, the state’s House and Senate Higher Education committees held the first of possibly many hearings to discuss a funding shortfall.  According to Georgia Student Finance Commission President Tim Connell, HOPE is projected to lose $243 million during the 2011 fiscal year. The shortfall is expected to exceed $300 million for 2012’s fiscal year. Commission officials cite rising tuition and enrollment as responsible for  HOPE scholarship exceeding the Georgia Lottery’s annual contributions.

However, at the hearing, it became clear that some lawmakers felt it was more than an increase in the cost of attending and the number of students attending colleges and universities that put HOPE in the red. Lawmakers questioned why more than twice as much lottery revenue, $2.1 billion, went to funding lottery prizes as went to funding the scholarship program. Margaret DeFrancisco, president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corp., argued that low prizes would mean fewer people would play the lottery. “People play to win,” she said. “So, the largest portion goes to them.” She also made the point that the year lottery prizes were reduced there was a notable reduction in sales as well.

Here is a fantastic, blow-by-blow article about the hearing. The hearing and article raise some interesting questions:

Should the HOPE allowance for private schools be lowered from the current $4,000 a year?
Should students who fail out of college repay the HOPE money they received?
Should there be an income cap to qualify for HOPE money? (AJC had a heated blog discussion on this topic at the end of July.)
Should students who receive Pell Grants have the amount of the grant subtracted from their HOPE benefits?
Should HOPE stop it’s second chance policy? (Students who lose HOPE currently have the chance to gain it back.)
Should HOPE not be awarded to students who are homeschooled or attended unaccredited high schools?

In yesterday’s Get Schooled blog at the ajc.com, Maureen Downey republished a 1992 op-ed from then-Governor Zell Miller urging Georgian’s to accept the Georgia Lottery. Maybe going back to the roots will help inform further discussions about HOPE’s funding and usage. Or, maybe it is just nostalgic and irrelevant.

More blogs and articles about the HOPE discussion:




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