Cuts to HOPE scholarship affects students
Faces $243 million shortfall
Students at Georgia Perimeter College and other universities across Georgia are bracing for possible cuts to the HOPE scholarship, though many are unsure what those cuts will actually be.
The popular program provides college tuition for students who earn a B average or better, but is facing major funding reductions. Lottery revenue hasn’t kept up with HOPE needs and the fund is going into the red.
There are already cuts taking place in HOPE. The book allowance will be cut in half from $150 to $75 a semester as of July 1 due to a “trigger” written into Georgia law for cuts to HOPE when spending exceeds the budget. With the addition of declining lottery tickets, the scholarship funding faces a $243 million shortfall in fiscal year 2011 and a $317 million shortfall in fiscal year 2012.
Legislators have proposed raising student GPA requirements or to revert back to some form of meanstesting so lower income students won’t lose their opportunity to attend college. Gov. Nathan Deal has come out against both of these proposals.
“Whatever guidelines the State has placed, we will
follow,” said Robin Winston, director of student financial services for Georgia Perimeter College.
“Right now, we don’t have a total plan in place to replace the funds, because we just don’t know what is going to happen.”
Of the 535 students on HOPE at GPC’s Newton campus, 279 students (who are also not eligible for Pell) will be affected by the budget cuts.
“Our students are eligi- ble for a variety of aids,” Winston said. “HOPE is just one of these programs.”
Most students who will be affected by the change are unhappy about the possibility of cuts.
“I do believe (HOPE) should be merit-based,” said Hannah Lawrence, 21, who has attended Perimeter for two years. “But the cuts for books are going to hurt. Just one of my books cost me $200.”
“It’s really not fair when we work so hard for our grades,” said Amanda Dixon, 18, a general studies major. “All this is going to do is cause us to get more loans and get into debt.”
“This is just ridiculous,” said Blake Meads, 19, a film major in his second semester. “They’re cutting so much and it’s making it harder to get what we need for college. It’s a travesty.”