HOPE Scholarship

The HOPE Scholarship Program (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) created in 1993 under the supervision of Georgia Governor Zell Miller, is a merit-based higher education scholarship that is funded entirely by revenue from the Georgia Lottery and is administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC). As of 2006, more than $3 billion in scholarships had been awarded to more than 900,000 Georgia students. The program is entirely merit-based, meaning that a student's ability to pay for his or her own education is not a factor in determining if he or she receives it. Previously, traditional-college-age students whose family income exceeded $100,000 per year were disqualified from the program.

To receive HOPE Scholarship funding, students must meet one of the following academic requirements:

* Graduate from a HOPE-eligible high school with a 3.0 grade point average for college preparatory diploma or a 3.2 grade point average for other diploma types.
* Complete a HOPE eligible home study program with a 3.0 grade point average.
* For all Georgia high school graduates who begin their high school careers during or after the 2008-2009 school year must graduate with a 3.0 grade point average.

* Graduate from an eligible high school, complete an eligible home study program, or earn a GED, and score in the national composite 85th percentile or higher on the SAT or ACT tests.

* Graduate from an ineligible high school or complete an ineligible home study program, and then earn a 3.0 grade point average on 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours of college degree-level coursework. This option allows for payment of the first 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours after they are taken.

* Earn a 3.0 grade point average at the college level on degree coursework after attempting 30, 60, or 90 semesters hours or 45, 90, or 135 quarter hours, regardless of high school graduation status.

And all of the following other requirements.

* Be enrolled as a degree-seeking student at an eligible public or private college or university or technical college in Georgia.

* Meet HOPE's Georgia residency requirements.

* Meet HOPE's U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen requirements.

* Be in compliance with Selective Service registration requirements.

* Be in compliance with the Georgia Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990. A student may be ineligible for HOPE payment if he or she has been convicted for committing certain felony offenses involving marijuana, controlled substances, or dangerous drugs.

* Not be in default or owe a refund on a student financial aid program.

* Maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the college.

The scholarship pays full tuition, a $150 per semester (100 per quarter) textbook allowance, and most mandatory student fees for the recipient to attend any public college in the University System of Georgia, up until the semester in which the student attempts his or her 127th credit hour for semesters or 190th for quarters in the Technical College System of Georgia (where it is called the HOPE Grant). For HOPE recipients who attend private colleges in Georgia, an equivalent amount is applied toward tuition, currently $3,500 per year.

In 2005, a decrease in lottery revenue led to questions about whether sufficient funding would be available to continue offering the scholarship in its present form. Several suggestions were made to decrease the program's costs, including tying the scholarship to standardized test scores or checking students' college GPAs more frequently to avoid paying tuition for students who had dipped below 3.0. Political rivals of Governor Sonny Perdue criticized his management of the program, and HOPE's future became an important state political issue. Much of that year's debate was rendered moot when lottery sales increased the next year.


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