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Twenty years of HOPE help
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Georgia’s public universities offer nationally competitive low tuition rates which contribute to a lower amount of student debt upon graduation than many states. Georgia offers the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Scholarship program, the longest standing merit-based scholarship that is lottery funded.

Since inception in 1993, Georgia’s HOPE program has awarded over 1.6 million scholarships and grants totaling $6.9 billion and serves as a model to other states pursuing lottery-funded scholarship programs. While other states have looked at replicating what Georgia offers, the Zell Miller Scholarship and Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship have not been duplicated and remain a great opportunity for the state’s students.

Zell Miller Scholarship
The best and brightest high school students in Georgia are rewarded with a full-tuition scholarship to a public institution within the state. For the 2011-12 school year, some 10,000 students utilized this scholarship.

Recipients can qualify for Georgia’s Zell Miller Scholarship by earning at least a 3.7 average high school GPA and scoring at least a 1,200 on the SAT (26 ACT). Zell Miller Scholarships also are awarded to each Georgia high school’s valedictorian and salutatorian.

By maintaining a 3.3 GPA over their college career, recipients will continue to receive full tuition coverage regardless of a school’s tuition increases. When comparing across states, it is clear that Georgia is one of few offering a full tuition merit-based scholarship to students.

Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship
Georgia high schoolers who have a 3.0 GPA are eligible for the HOPE scholarship. The HOPE scholarship will cover between 79-86 percent of tuition for the 2013-14 school year (assuming the student maintains a 3.0 collegiate GPA) for recipients that decide to attend a public postsecondary school in Georgia.

In the 2011-12 school year, Georgia had over 92,000 public school HOPE recipients. In order to keep pace with tuition increases, the FY2014 General Appropriations Act increased HOPE award amounts by 3 percent for all HOPE recipients.

Although it no longer fully covers tuition and fees, it does offer a comparably high scholarship when comparing other lottery-funded scholarships throughout the U.S. For example, UGA’s tuition for 30 semester hours, or a normal two semester academic year, totals $8,028 and HOPE covers $6,555 (82 percent).

A look at other states
Like Georgia, a number of states including Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee, fund scholarships through proceeds from their respective state lotteries. Other states, like Georgia, have structured or restructured their program to ensure their scholarship endures environments where demand risks outpacing lottery revenues. As you may imagine, the structure and recipient qualifications for lottery-funded scholarships vary between states. However, all states appear to offer scholarships geared towards state residents attending a postsecondary institution within their state of residency.

Tennessee: HOPE, Aspire Scholarship (2004) and HOPE Access Grant
Tennessee created the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program, which offers both merit and need-based options. Students qualify for the Tennessee HOPE scholarship if they have attained a 3.0 high school GPA or at least a 21 ACT (980 SAT). To maintain the flat $6,000 per year award, full-time students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Actually, the year is based on three semesters so the scholarship is really only $2,000 per semester or $4,000 for two semesters. The Aspire Scholarship is reserved for lower-income students who have an adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less and meet the HOPE requirements. Aspire recipients are eligible to receive up to a $2,250 annual supplement to the base HOPE scholarship. Another aid for financially needy students is the HOPE Access Grant. These recipients did not meet the initial HOPE requirement, but may receive an Access Grant award of $1,375 per year, (three semesters) at 4-year institutions if they earned 2.75 high school GPA and an ACT score of 18-20 (860-970 SAT).

Kentucky: Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) (1998)
Kentucky implemented the KEES scholarship program. Offering both merit and need-based awards, the base KEES scholarships are calculated on GPA intervals for the recipient’s highest annual high school GPA. For example, a high school freshman who earns a 3.5 GPA would have a $375 scholarship for each year of college — assuming the freshman did not attain a higher GPA later on in their high school career. The tiers begin at a 2.5 GPA with a $125 award and continue to a 4.0 GPA, equating to a $500 annual scholarship.

Kentucky also offers two supplemental awards to the base KEES scholarship: the KEES ACT Bonus Award and the KEES IB/AP Supplemental Award. The supplemental scholarships follow the tiered structure of the KEES base scholarship. KEES recipients are eligible for the ACT Bonus once they have scored at least a 15 on the ACT, which awards $36 each year with the Bonus leveling off at $500 annually for an ACT score of 28 or higher.

However, the KEES IP/AP Supplemental award factors in IB (International Baccalaureate) and AP (Advanced Placement) test scores as well as a student’s income. To qualify, students must have been eligible for free or reduced-price lunch during any year of high school while earning a qualifying score on an AP and/or IB exam.

Like Tennessee’s HOPE program, KEES recipients receive the same award amount regardless of their enrollment in a private or public postsecondary institution.
Next week: Other programs

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