ATLANTA Senate Bill 334 sponsored by Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson, would eliminate an SAT requirement for the state's new Zell Miller program, which was launched last year by Gov. Nathan Deal to provide full tuition to the state's highest-achieving students. Instead, graduating seniors in the top 3 percent of every high school in Georgia would automatically qualify.
Senate Bill 335, sponsored by Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, would erase a new 3.0 GPA requirement for technical college students receiving grant money through the HOPE program. The technical grants are different from the scholarship and tend to benefit students who are older and likely supporting families of their own.
Senate Bill 336, also sponsored by Carter, would reinstate a cap on family income for students to be eligible for HOPE, starting at $140,000 per family. A cap existed when the program began, but was quickly lifted after the lottery proved financially successful.
In addition to the two bills, Carter sponsored Senate Resolution 722, which would put to public vote a proposal to add a student representative to the state Board of Regents, which oversees the University System of Georgia and sets tuition.
The bills came as the state House and Senate higher education committees scheduled a joint meeting for Wednesday to discuss HOPE and the impact of last year's reforms, when Republican Gov. Nathan Deal asked lawmakers to reduce the program to keep it from going broke. The program, however, is still straining to meet demand amid soaring enrollment and tuition.