Tech college HOPE GPA requirements to be lowered

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal says that he and other top elected leaders in state government support changing the GPA requirement to 2.0 on a scale of 0-4 for technical college students to participate in the HOPE Grant program.

Deal announced the proposal today, along with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate, House Speaker David Ralston, and state Rep. Stacey Evans, a D-Smyrna.

The HOPE Grant grade-point average requirement for technical school students was originally 2.0 on a scale of 1-4, with 4.0 being the highest performance level. The requirement was raised to 3.0 two years ago because of budgetary issues.

By expanding access to the HOPE grant, Deal said in a news release today, state officials aim to strengthen the state's work force development efforts.

"After talking with many members of the General Assembly and crunching the numbers at our budget office, I'm glad to report that we'll be able to lower the GPA requirement for the HOPE Grant back to 2.0 after raising it to 3.0 for budgetary reasons two years ago," Deal said. "I believe this additional benefit will help Georgia families trying to get ahead and will boost the state's ability to attract and fill high-skilled jobs.

"With an estimated cost between $5 million and $8 million, we believe this will provide greater access to school — and access to a brighter career — at a relatively small cost to the state."

The change to a 2.0 GPA will require legislative action to change the current law, which requires a 3.0 minimum GPA.

Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker, who was attending a conference in California Thursday when contacted by The Albany Herald, said he's cautiously optimistic about the governer's plan.

"If the state can afford it, this will be a great thing for Albany Technical College," Parker said. "While 2.5 (or Deal's suggested 2.0) is not the grade we want our students to achieve, it's an indication that they're better than average. A lot of these students are just getting to the point where they're learning to study when they find that HOPE has run out for them. Many who are not Pell (Grant) eligible generally run out of money before they graduate.

"I had faculty and staff do a rough count, and I'd say we lost 250-300 students this fall who were otherwise academically eligible but didn't have the money to bridge the gap. Ironically, I was in a workshop about emergency financial aid when you called, so Gov. Deal's news would be a great thing for Albany Tech students, again, if the state can afford it. For our students, once they graduate, 94 percent of them are going to move into jobs in-field and become responsible, taxpaying citizens."

Since the HOPE reforms were implemented when Deal took office, there has been a decline in enrollment in the technical school system and in the University System, the governor's office said, adding the state has seen a disproportionate drop in the technical school system. For some students enrolled in the system, the loss of scholarship money put higher education out of reach, the office said, adding that the new bipartisan effort is one way Deal intends to remedy the problem.

"I'm proud to stand here with a bipartisan group of Georgia leaders committed to helping all Georgians attain a higher education degree," Deal said. "I look forward to working on this issue with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. In the chambers, of course, I work through my floor leaders, but I'm happy to say they'll be working with Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna, who has worked with me on this issue."

The state is able to expand funds for the HOPE Grants because of recent growth in Lottery revenues. In the first six months of this fiscal year, deposits were up $32 million, a 7.6 percent increase over the same period the year before, the governor's office noted.

In addition to the proposed change to the GPA requirement for technical colleges, Deal announced plans to attach language to move higher education funding in Georgia from an enrollment-based formula to an outcomes-based formula, as recommended by the Higher Education Funding Commission.

"Increasing the numbers of grant recipients does no one any good if the student doesn't finish with a degree," Deal said. "Put simply, we need more Georgians with college or technical school degrees in order to attract the jobs of tomorrow to our state."

Deal previously announced that his recommended budget for fiscal year 2014 includes 10 extra days for pre-kindergarten, restoring the full 180-day school year, and a 3 percent increase for HOPE recipients.

The governor said when he took office two years ago the reserve funds for the HOPE and Pre-K programs were on a path to bankruptcy and that because of action by Deal and the General Assembly, including both Republicans and Democrats, the state was able to stabilize Lottery-funded programs. He said programs are being added back as funds allow.


ilovealbany 2 years, 9 months ago

I think Dr. Parker is the reason Albany Tech has grown and flourished over the past several years...his take on this is refreshingly budget-minded ("if the state can afford it"). This is the attitude that all of our leaders need to take...no sense of entitlement at this institute! Thanks Dr. Parker!


jM69 2 years, 9 months ago

There is all kind of entitlement at ATC. 3/4 of the students are there only to collect government checks.Most of them spend their hope money on non-school related items, and then tell teachers they don't have any money to purchase books.


beenhereawhile 2 years, 9 months ago

Well then why don't you go back and fix the college HOPE change that you made at the same time. You changed the rules retroactively on college students to look back at their high school grades in order to get the 100% funding, even if they were making good grades in college.

I wouldn't mind changing the GPA back to 2.5, but 2.0 is awfully low....In order to get 2.5 you only have to get half Bs and half Cs, which is a pretty low standard.


jglass 2 years, 9 months ago

How do students spend HOPE money on non-school related items? Yes, I agree the lowered standard is too low if it is passed. I would think they would have to get an overall B to qualify for HOPE.


FryarTuk 2 years, 9 months ago

Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally - is (was) the purpose of the lottery scholarship program. The intent was to reward high achievement of pupils and their parents by offering academic scholarships. This is no longer the case. The achievers have been penalized because the state is not doing its primary job to educate its children in general areas. The politicians once again turn to an easy answer which fixes nothing. The ruling GOPolitburo is trying to finance expenses of basic education out of the lottery proceeds which was the fear of those of us who opposed the gambling from the beginning. If both political parties are serious about finding funds for services in GA they will look no further than devising and implementing a rational plan to collect taxes that are already paid by consumers - the sales taxes. The money paid by citizens at the time of purchases is not being turned into the state treasury uniformly. Millions upon millions of state tax dollars are being, in effect stolen. COLLECT THE STATE SALES TAXES THEY ARE ALREADY PAID! RESTORE THE FULL PROMISE OF HOPE TO THE OUTSTANDING PUPILS.


RedEric 2 years, 9 months ago

If you got a surplus spend it by all means. This will increase the NUMBER of students. It will lower the quality of graduates, but the number is all that counts in the political world. I have a friend who used to work at Tech. She said our graduation rate would be much higher if so many wouldn't take the government money, turn around and walk out the door.


rightasrain 2 years, 9 months ago

ATC is another "gimmie" program. I personally witnessed an "experienced" unemployment veteran show a "first timer" applicant how to fill out the forms so that he would receive unemployment; the guy even said, "If you'll check this box that you're going to school, you'll get more money, get your school paid and make money. When you leave here, go down to ATC and enroll in one class. You don't even have to actually GO to school; just take an on line course, and you get all this extra money." Dees folks sho kno how's to shuffle dere feets to gits mo money!


whattheheck 2 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps Carlton can do a piece on the "lost students", those who enter the halls of learning and never graduate in any program. Lowering the academic requirements for the HOPE is a mistake as we expand the availability funds to those who have been marginal performers. Why not let's be totally fair, waive the magic wand, and give a degree to all who want it without any work? The new American workforce, well educated and excelling in putting the mustard on hot dogs or running the cash register at the dollar store. The all equally qualified interchangeable employee every business needs.


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