Georgia’s running out of HOPE scholarship for college students

HOPE, a scholarship funded entirely by the Georgia Lottery is expected to run out of money to award students by 2028 . Photos by Lahar Samantarai | The Signal
HOPE, a scholarship funded entirely by the Georgia Lottery is expected to run out of money to award students by 2028 . Photos by Lahar Samantarai | The Signal
HOPE, a scholarship funded entirely by the Georgia Lottery is expected to run out of money to award students by 2028 .
Photos by Lahar Samantarai | The Signal

According to a Georgia committee, the HOPE Scholarship Program is expected to run out of money by the year 2028.

Since the HOPE Scholarship was created in 1993 it has given out over 1.7 million scholarships to high school students that graduate with at least a 3.0 grade point average.

But it seems that HOPE will no longer be able to afford covering 80% of the tuition of thousands of students.

In 2011, the scholarship first showed signs of dying out. Governor Nathan Deal then reformed HOPE in order to save the program that was on the brink of bankruptcy, according to governor’s official website.

Reed used the Georgia lottery as a way to fund the scholarship and implemented more and stricter guidelines by adding higher GPA requirements for students to obtain scholarships. The guidelines included denying students who possessed a post secondary degree to apply for HOPE.

The purpose of the reform was to significantly decrease the amount of Georgia students leaving the state to attend other colleges. The scholarship’s requirements were meant to be an incentive for the talented students, but also aimed to decrease the amount of recipients.

The reform of 2011 allowed the HOPE scholarship to last longer than originally expected, but a conducted analysis on the longevity of the program released in April of 2016 by the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships determined that still wasn’t enough.

The report stated that by the time this year’s kindergarteners are eligible for the HOPE scholarship the program would have drained its funding. The conclusion of the analysis came from looking at the trends associated with this program.

The committee estimated that with the increase of tuition and fees by 7.5 percent and the spending on Zell Miller scholars increasing by 6 percent every year, the lottery would need to have a 2.5 percent increase in lottery funds each year.

However, that is not the case. When the lottery initially came to Georgia it experienced a tremendous boom in sales, but after the recession in 2009 there was a decline in sales.

Jon Gabrielsen, a consultant on the Report of the House Study Committee on the Preservation of the HOPE Scholarship Program, told the Signal the rising trends are slowly decreasing the cash left for HOPE.

“It’s like if your rent and bills were going up faster than your income. Eventually, what you could once afford, you no longer can,” he said.

He said that even though they can’t predict accurately the expected year that HOPE is supposed to be completely exhausted, by altering the model created to determine their results, the committee has a better estimate of this program’s possible lapse year.

Gabrielsen said there are multiple factors that could pull the expected year forward.
“[That’s why] I would monitor this model and have someone update it every two years. If the legislature changes some rules like lowering or changing the grade point average then they have make a new model,” he said.

Nancy Badertscher, a retired reporter hired by the committee, found that due to the program’s increasing popularity, parents preparing their kids at a younger age is also hindering the program.

About a month prior to this report’s release, Governor Nathan Deal announced that in the 23-year history of the lottery, the Georgia Lottery Corporation would be transferring the largest amount, $1.09 billion, to the State Treasury’s Lottery for Education Account.

Continuous efforts are being made to sustain the HOPE scholarship program, but some people believe there’s more solutions behind finding the funds. Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Grand, explained to the Committee for the Preservation of the HOPE Scholarship Program, MGM’s casino development strategies and how Georgia could benefit from the legalization of gaming during the committee’s sessions for preserving the HOPE program.

Students like, Otesele Igberaese, who has five younger siblings will be affected by the HOPE scholarship running out.

“I feel like it’s unfair to the younger population who will probably work twice as hard to be accepted into college. They deserve to have their education funded as well. After all, they are the future,”he said.

1 Comment

  1. Great article. I pray the governor and the committee responsible for the HOPE scholarship find solutions to sustaining it for future generations.

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