House, Senate Agree on HOPE Reform
Reform to the HOPE Scholarship program is only a signature away from law following passage by the Senate and agreement by the House last week. The legislation marks the most dramatic rework of the program, one of the nation's most generous merit-based scholarships, since its creation.
Following the introduction of the plan by Governor Deal nearly three weeks ago, House and Senate leaders made small but significant edits to the legislation in response to public input.
In its original form, the proposal called for college students to maintain a 3.5 GPA in order to continue receiving a Zell Miller Scholarship, worth 100% of tuition. After reviewing GPA information provided by the USG and hearing from student leaders, including Tech Student Body President Corey Boone, House legislators lowered the requirement to a 3.3 GPA.
The Senate also approved several amendments, all of which were agreed to by the House. Among them is a provision that allows high school valedictorians and salutatorians to be automatically eligible for a Zell Miller Scholarship regardless of their GPA and SAT/ACT score.
Though a formal “grandfather clause" that would prevent changes for current students was not included, there is thought to be inherent protection included for next academic year’s juniors and seniors. As the last two classes on the now defunct “Fixed for Four” program, their tuition rates (which are fixed from the year of matriculation) will be less than the 90% HOPE award amount based on FY11 tuition rates.
Protests by students and other advocates pushing for protection of the status quo and provisions like the grandfather clause dominated the capitol during much of the week. However, the tone of Georgia Tech’s students was largely more controlled and well-received.
“We commend the Georgia Tech Student Government Association for its respectful and meaningful engagement in the General Assembly’s discussions of the HOPE Scholarship,” noted Dene Sheheane, Executive Director of Government and Community Relations.
“Student Body President Corey Boone and his fellow student leaders provided valuable student voices that truly helped shape the legislation.”
HB326 now awaits the governor’s signature. The reforms will then officially take effect for Fall 2011.
- Workflow Status:Published
- Created By:George Ray
- Modified By:Fletcher Moore