The HOPE Scholarship for students with a 3.0 GPA will run out of money by 2028, according to an analysis of the Georgia program by the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships.
Some key findings by the committee show that HOPE suffered an 89 percent drop in full-tuition scholarships after reforms in 2011 forced thousands from the program created by Gov. Zell Miller in 1993. For this school year, the program will cover only 71 to 88 percent of tuition cost depending on the college or university. HOPE grants are down 69 percent throughout the Technical College System of Georgia from the number awarded before reforms.
Chip Lake, president of the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships, said the analysis confirms that Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship is in serious jeopardy.
“Despite a tidal wave of cash from the Georgia Lottery, demand for tuition assistance among Georgia families is overtaking the ability to fund the scholarships as intended,” he said.
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Since the HOPE Scholarship was created in 1993, more than 1.7 million students have received substantial tuition assistance worth more than $8 billion. Only the best and brightest students will qualify for free college tuition if current trends continue.
In just two years, funds for the general HOPE scholarships will start to decline. There won’t be enough money even if the lottery continues to grow at the same pace it has in the last five years. Funds for the program will be gone as early as 2028.
Deficits projected by the committee analysis could be worse than the study indicates.
“If anything, it suggests the best-case scenario,” said Jon T. Gabrielsen, CEO of an Atlanta-based firm specializing in market economic research and strategic consulting. “If there is a bias in this model, the risk if that (HOPE) could go into deficit even sooner. This model passes all the tests. It’s solid, and easily supports the results.”
Another concern for Georgia families is the average student debt is about $26,518. Sixty-two percent of Georgia’s college students have loans.