The Georgia Lottery was formed in 1993 following a vote by the citizens of the state. The lottery funds the Pre-Kindergarten program and the HOPE scholarship program. Since its inception, the Lottery has provided $9.3 billion for education.
In the first fiscal year of sales (1994) the lottery had ticket sales of $1.1 billion with $362 million, or 33.8 percent going towards education. During fiscal year 2007, ticket sales amounted to $3.4 billion with $853 million, or 24.9 percent going towards education.
Transfers to Lottery
According to Georgia Code, at least 45 percent, or as nearly as practical, of all ticket sales have to be returned to the lottery as prize money or prize tickets, and to date, 54.3 percent of ticket sales have been returned for prizes. The Georgia Code also states that 35 percent, or as nearly as practical, of the proceeds should be sent to the State for educational purposes. In 1994, 32.4 percent of gross ticket sales were transferred for educational purposes. The Lottery Corporation has transferred on average 30.4 percent of ticket sales to education. Last year, the Lottery Corporation only transferred 24.9 percent of gross ticket sales to the State for educational purposes. The percentage of ticket sales that have been transferred has declined, although total dollars for education have increased. Some 61 percent of sales dollars have been returned as prizes.
For the 2008 budget, the Georgia Pre-K program will receive $324 million, or 39 percent of the lottery appropriations of $853 million. The Georgia Student Finance Commission, which administers the scholarships to students attending the public colleges and universities and awards grant money for students attending the state’s technical colleges, has been appropriated $517 million in lottery funds.
The state’s pre-kindergarten program is part of the Department of Early Care and Learning, which also is responsible for childcare licensing for the state. Lottery-funded pre-kindergarten started out the 1992-1993 school year with 750 children. Fourteen years later in 2006, 76,586 children were enrolled in both public and private pre-k facilities.
HOPE scholarships — public and private colleges
The HOPE scholarship is funded entirely by the Georgia Lottery and helps to provide a public, private or technical school education to eligible Georgia students at no cost to taxpayers.
New features were added to HOPE for qualification purposes. All high school recipients (starting in 2007) must now have a true “B” average or a 3.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale, instead of an 80 numeric average. There are three checkpoint systems used to monitor grades for higher education students. The attempted-hours checkpoint reviews the students at the 30, 60 and 90 semester hour increments, or more simply when the schools recognize students as sophomores, juniors and seniors. The end-of-spring checkpoint is a new feature to make sure all HOPE recipients have a 3.0 GPA at the end of every spring semester, starting in 2005. Finally, the three-term checkpoint is the measure of GPAs for freshmen recipients who enrolled for less than 12 hours for their first three terms.
HOPE scholarships are awarded for public and private colleges. For students enrolled in a Georgia Public College or University, the HOPE scholarship provides tuition, mandatory fees and a $150 per semester book allowance. For Georgia students attending private colleges and universities located in Georgia the scholarship provides $3,000 per academic school year for full time study. For those attending half-time, $1,500 is available. For those attending a Georgia Public Technical College, the HOPE Grant provides tuition, mandatory fees and a $100 per quarter book allowance.
Other HOPE scholarships
The PROMISE Teacher Scholarship Loan Program provides up to $6,000 in cancelable loans to high-achieving undergraduate students who aspire to be teachers in Georgia’s public schools.
The HOPE Teacher Scholarship
Graduate students can apply for the HOPE Teacher Scholarship if they are teaching in critical shortage fields such as special education, math and science.
The Lottery Commission has been successful in keeping lottery sales on an upward path. They have accomplished this by increasing the amount paid in prizes. Overall dollars to education are increasing but at a slower rate than payouts are increasing. The good news is that there is now a $800 million reserve which could operate both programs for a full year.
Useful Web sites:
Georgia Lottery: www.galottery.com
Georgia Student Finance Commission: www.gsfc.org
Visit the Legislature’s Home Page at www.legis.state.ga.us
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