HOPE GPA change gives technical colleges a boost


Like many other aspects of state spending, education has taken a hit as economic hardships have forced state officials to take steps to cut costs to enable Georgia to maintain its constitutionally mandated balanced budget.

Last week, however, some post-secondary students got good news when Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he was recommending that the grade-point average for technical college students who qualify for HOPE scholarship grants be reduced from 3.0 on a scale of 0-4 to 2.0. That was the minimum GPA that technical college students originally had to meet to qualify for HOPE, but the state raised the standard when funding became strained. The change is expected to cost the state $5 million-$8 million.

That announcement came on the heels of the governor’s announcements that he wants HOPE recipients to receive a 3 percent increase in funding and for pre-kindergartners to add back 10 days that have been cut from their school year, returning them to a 180-day school year.

Deal’s office said that the state is able to add these spending items because the Georgia Lottery, which funds the programs with a percentage of revenues from game ticket sales, is seeing improved sales. In the first six months of Fiscal Year 2013, which began July 1, the lottery has seen a 7.6 percent jump in ticket sales over the first half of FY 2012. That has added $32 million more to the program’s balance sheet.

“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,” Deal said, adding state leaders believe “this will provide greater access to school — and access to a brighter career — at a relatively small cost to the state.”

According to Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker, the relaxed HOPE standard may be a financial shot in the arm for 250-300 students who are academically eligible but unable to find the money needed for tuition. Albany Tech is one of Albany’s success stories, working with local businesses to provide employees with the skills they need, and students who make it through graduation have an excellent chance at gaining employment. Albany Tech boasts a 94 percent success rate of its graduates moving into jobs in their chosen fields.

The 2.0 standard may seem low, but, as Parker pointed out last week, many technical college students have a period in which they learn to study. During that time, a student’s grades can drop below the 3.0 mark, kicking the student out of the HOPE program just when he or she is turning the corner academically. If relaxing the standard gives these students a better chance to stay in school and succeed, then everyone wins. The funds do what they’re intended to do, the student and the student’s family benefit from better income, and society benefits from having another taxpaying citizen.

After several years of cuts in educational spending, it’s good to see that state leadership is serious about increasing funding in areas that can make a difference when the opportunity arises.


anneofgreengables 2 years, 9 months ago

A period of learning to study? That is the best excuse yet for dumbing down our society. What about the previous 12 years they spent in school prior to Technical school. They didn't learn to read, write or math and now after 12 years of a free education we have to continue to pay and dumb down requirments because they need a peiord of learning how to study?????? Unbelievable!!!!!


FryarTuk 2 years, 9 months ago

I strongly disagree with the editorial. Georgia is in need of finding a way to promote the cream of the crop to its maximum level of achievement. The State and nation have critical needs for scientists, technologist, teachers, computer specialists, engineers, mathematicians and Ph. D. level personnel. These are the people that create jobs and businesses that drive the current economics. If you have no jobs or businesses having a skilled work force is of no good. The governor is putting the cart before the horse. 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 tickets from the beginning. If both political parties are serious about finding funds for educational services in GA they should 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 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.


whattheheck 2 years, 9 months ago

Certainly agree. Why fund mediocrity? And one of the problems with educational costs today is the influx of money that creates the need for more money. Reminds me of the explosion of healthcare costs created by the advent of Medicare. A goose appears and all want a golden egg from it.

And the comments on collecting taxes due are certainly relevant. Those collecting the taxes should be forced to pay them with 3 months max or not be allowed to do further business. Under the present system and how it is operated, non-payment can go for years before all the legal wickets are navigated and we usually wind up with an empty bag. As things stand, our taxes paid become an operating subsidy for the businesses that are slack.


chinaberry25 2 years, 9 months ago

I think that they should reward students who graduate in 12 years with a high GPA. Those that also go on to college and graduate. FSU gives a bonus for the bright students who achieve. This is where my thoughts lie.


Thurman 2 years, 9 months ago

I also disagree with this new grade average. Lowering grade averages in order to keep more students in school or to recruit students to post-high school facilities is not the answer. Georgia needs to start at the bottom, kindergarten if necessary, and have students who carry higher grade averages.


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