SB 496 would establish a needs-based grant to assist low income students stay in college. While funded from lottery proceeds, this grant would be dependent on appropriations and be limited to the amount appropriated each year. The grant would be based on the federal Pell grant criteria.
That data shows that there are about 50,000 students who would be potentially eligible under those criteria. About half of these would be in the most needy category. Approximately 97 percent of Pell Grant eligible students come from families with under $40,000 income and 80 percent from families with under $30,000 family income.
Georgia is presently the only Southeastern state without a needs-tested college scholarship. Both HOPE eligible students and those not eligible for HOPE would be allowed to apply for the grant, but awards would be based on need. Another term to describe the grant would be a “stay in college” grant. Low income students are particularly vulnerable in this time of rising tuition and families affected by the economic recession.
Students have to be making satisfactory progress towards graduation to qualify for the Pell Grant or for the new HOPE Grant. The HOPE College Opportunity Grant would be administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission who administers all state scholarships and the HOPE Scholarship. The grant is envisioned to be a grant of approximately $600-$700 this year, but each year this amount could change according to appropriations.
It is true that the proceeds from the lottery for education will probably drop below the level of expenditures for HOPE and for the Pre-K Kindergarten program in the coming years. Consequently, there will probably be a study of the future of lottery revenues and how HOPE and Pre-K might be affected. If this bill passes, a needs-based grant could be part of that discussion.
SB 496 passed out of the Senate Higher Education Committee and is now in the Rules Committee.
Lottery revenues in the FY2011 budget
Gov. Perdue’s FY 2011 budget appropriated $1.1 billion for HOPE scholarships and the Pre-K Program. This amount was $189 million more than the $937 million forecast to be transferred from the lottery. Here is a breakdown on the governor’s proposals.
HOPE Scholarship $474,575,353
HOPE Grant $206,318,361
Pre-K Program $349,596,285
The balance of $1.1 billion funds other smaller scholarships.
The Senate intends to fund the Tuition Equalization Grants from state funds, replace scholarships eliminated by the Governor’ budget and use the balance of the lottery appropriation to address the Resource Coordinator/Pre-K slot issue. The remaining funds would be applied to the new HOPE College Opportunity Grant if SB 496 passes the Legislature.
Senate action last week
The following legislation has passed the Senate:
• SB 360: Prohibits the use of a mobile phone for writing, sending, or reading a text-based message while operating a motor vehicle. A conviction will result in a fine of up to $150. This bill would ban texting for all ages.
• SB 345: Legalizes sanctioned organized racing on local public roads.
• SB 364: States that a person’s massage therapist license shall be suspended upon conviction for a sexual offense.
• SB 368: Makes it unlawful to advertise in directory publications as an in-state business if the business is actually an out-of-state business using a local phone number.
• SB 397: Establishes the “Blue Alert” system to be activated when a suspect for a crime involving the death or serious injury of a peace officer has not been apprehended.
• SB 381: Requires the governor’s budget report to include a report of all fees administered by a budgetary unit.
• SB 389: Requires the Department of Audits and Accounts to develop and operate a searchable Web site that is accessible by the public at no cost.
• SB 406: Creates an online voter registration system that would benefit military personnel deployed overseas.
• SB 427: Creates the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to raise funds to benefit public schools.
I may be reached at
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