A recent history of HOPE and how it’s changed at Georgia State

Between the years of 2015 and 2018, the HOPE Scholarship helped 48,490 in-state students at Georgia State to go to school virtually for free — when combined with other grants and scholarships — or with very little debt upon graduation. 

Since the 2012-13 school year, Georgia State’s tuition has increased by 6.92%, but this increase doesn’t impact the coverage of HOPE. 

HOPE coverage is determined by a percentage rather than a fixed amount. Therefore, when tuition costs increase, the amount of financial aid awarded by the HOPE Scholarship program increases automatically as well.

Omer Deeb, a Georgia State student, was awarded the HOPE Scholarship directly out of high school. 

“HOPE has impacted my college career in indescribable ways,” Deeb said. “Aside from the fact that the scholarship covers basically 75% of my tuition, it helps me set a bar.” 

Deeb has managed to keep the HOPE Scholarship every semester he’s been enrolled at Georgia State.

“Having to maintain a 3.0 GPA motivates me to try harder and makes me want to succeed to get more scholarships,” he said. “It is a blessing in numerous ways, and I never take it for granted.”

In 2018, the Georgia Lottery, the institution that funds HOPE, announced that it reached $20 billion in funding for education.

According to the Georgia Lottery, “more than 1.8 million students have benefited from HOPE programs, which include the HOPE Scholarship, HOPE Grant, Zell Miller Scholarship, Zell Miller Grant, HOPE GED Grant and HOPE Career Grant.”

According to the University System of Georgia, 71% of full-time freshmen in the fall of 2017 retained the HOPE Scholarship entering the fall of 2018. 

Out of the 39,066 in-state students enrolled at Georgia State in 2018, 13,844 received funding from the HOPE Scholarship program. Out of these 13,844 students, 4,988 were freshmen. 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports “about half the scholarship students [in Georgia] lose [the HOPE Scholarship] after freshman year.” 

Luckily, the HOPE Scholarship program allows students to earn the scholarship back again after losing it.

Paul Calixte transferred to Georgia State from Valdosta State for the spring of 2018. He is still currently enrolled at Georgia State.

“When I went to Valdosta, I had HOPE, and it really benefited me with my financial aid. But I boldly made the decision to leave and transfer second semester to Georgia State,” Calixte said. 

Calixte had issues with financial aid during the spring and fall semesters of 2018, causing him to be forcefully removed from classes. 

“That [removal] caused issues with my records and landed me with a low GPA and withdraws on my records, which then caused me to lose HOPE,” he said. “I am currently on the path of redemption and trying tirelessly to get my GPA back up to get HOPE again.”  

The University System of Georgia followed first-time freshmen in the fall of 2013 until the spring of 2019 by checking in every 30 credit hours they had earned to see if the students were able to keep the HOPE Scholarship over time. 

For the 2013-14 school year, 2,874 Georgia State students received HOPE. After the first 30-hour update, this number decreased to 2,282. 

The 60-hour update indicated the number decreased to 1,711. The 90-hour check contained 1,443 Georgia State students who still had HOPE. Of those 1,443 students, 1,281 students graduated. 

This shows that in 2019, 1,281 Georgia State students graduated between 2013 and 2019 while keeping the HOPE Scholarship their entire college career — less than half of those initial freshmen who had entered with HOPE.

These numbers don’t include students who lost HOPE and earned it back between 2013 and 2019.

According to numbers provided by the Georgia Student Finance Commission, the percentage of tuition that the HOPE Scholarship covers decreased from 84.435% to 81.677% between 2012 and 2017, while Georgia State tuition increased by 4.92% over the same period. 

In 2013, HOPE covered 84.02% of Georgia State tuition, amounting to $218.46 of the $260 for each credit hour. In 2017, HOPE covered 81.677% of Georgia State tuition — $233 of the $285.27 for each credit hour. 

For the 2019-20 school year, HOPE has increased its percentage from 81.677% to 85.828% coverage of Georgia State tuition.

The amount of coverage each student receives from HOPE is calculated by the percentage they set for that school year until they reach 15 credit hours. Now, HOPE doesn’t give coverage beyond 15 credits. If a student is enrolled in 17 credit hours, they will receive the percentage of money off their first 15 hours, but the remaining two credits will be at full cost. 

This is because the maximum number of credit hours that HOPE would assist in paying for was lowered to preserve funding for the program in 2004

But students must also maintain a minimum of six hours registered to remain eligible.

Due to the 15-hour credit cap, the maximum amount of HOPE funding a Georgia State student can receive during the 2019-20 school year is $3,840 towards the $4,474 for the 15 credit hours per semester.

There are also time and total credit limits to the use of HOPE over a student’s college career. 

According to the Georgia Student Finance Commission, the HOPE Scholarship program can be applied up to a limit of 127 credit hours before they deem a student ineligible to receive further funding from the program. 

As of summer 2019, the seven-year limit placed on eligibility during the 2011-12 school year has now expanded to a ten-year eligibility limit, allowing students to take more time in earning their degree before losing the chance to use the scholarship.

HOPE was established in 1993, awarded to two-year technical college students with a maximum household income of $66,000. A year later, the household income maximum increased drastically to $100,000 and the program expanded from only at two-year schools to four-year schools as well. And in another year, 1995, the household income limit was discarded entirely. 

Now that the award is independent of household income, it is categorized as a merit-based program — dependent entirely on academic success. According to the University System of Georgia, in 1993, out of the 993 first-time, in-state freshmen at Georgia State, 257 were given the HOPE Scholarship. 

The most recent research done by the University System of Georgia has shown that in 2017, out of 5,970 first-time, in-state freshmen at Georgia State 3,221 received funding from the HOPE Scholarship program.

In 2017, 4,354 in-state, not first-time freshmen received funding from the HOPE Scholarship program and in 2018, 3,873 in-state sophomores received funding. 

The decrease from 2017 to 2018 reflects both students that have transferred in and out of Georgia State and the students that lost or gained back HOPE.

The HOPE Scholarship grants flexibility to students by allowing transfer-students going from one HOPE-eligible institution to another HOPE-eligible institution to continue receiving funding from the program.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, “the HOPE Scholarship, raised the college attendance rate of 18- to 19-year-olds by 7 to 8 percentage points.”

In order to remain eligible for the HOPE Scholarship’s awards, Georgia State students must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout their college career. Once a student falls under the GPA minimum, the HOPE Scholarship allows that student the chance to pull their GPA back up to a 3.0.