Over the years, tens of thousands of students throughout Georgia have been able to enroll in Georgia’s technical colleges and receive an exceptional technical education through the HOPE program. The HOPE Grant, in particular, has helped to train many Georgians who have become a vital part of Georgia’s world-class, 21st Century workforce.
More recently, the HOPE Grant has also been a lifeline for training that leads to new jobs for many men and women who were at one time unemployed or underemployed as a result of the downturn in the economy.
Ensuring the success of the HOPE program for years to come is essential to the future success of every Georgia student and, ultimately, to the long-term prosperity of our state. Today, though, the HOPE program has been strained by both its own success and the economic downturn. Difficult decisions must be made to guarantee that future generations of Georgians will also be able to share in the many education opportunities afforded by the HOPE Scholarship and Grant.
The proposal announced today by Governor Deal reflects careful consideration of the impact that the necessary changes will have on Georgia’s students and their families. The HOPE program is a model that other states have long admired, and Governor Deal’s proposed modifications will keep the HOPE program as the gold standard for years to come.
I, along with the state’s 26 technical college presidents, commend Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker David Ralston and the members of the General Assembly for their leadership throughout this complicated and difficult process.
In FY 10, almost 147,000 of the 191,000 students who enrolled in the 26 TCSG colleges were the beneficiaries of HOPE funding, and 95 percent of those were recipients of the HOPE Grant. Under the new proposal, TCSG students who get the HOPE Grant will be required to earn a 3.0 GPA by the first HOPE checkpoint. Currently, 68 percent of the TCSG HOPE Grant recipients had a 3.0 GPA by the 45 hour checkpoint.
The proposal also provides that students who already possess a postsecondary degree are ineligible to receive the HOPE Grant and establishes a firm grant cap of 95 quarter hours or 63 semester hours for all students.
In addition, the proposal preserves the $500 HOPE voucher, given to students who earn a General Educational Development (GED) diploma and then use it to help them enroll in a postsecondary institution within two years. This is essential to improving Georgia’s workforce by encouraging more adults to earn a college credential.
The Technical College System of Georgia will continue to work in partnership with Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston and the members of the General Assembly to ensure that every deserving student will always be able to enjoy the benefits of the HOPE program at Georgia’s colleges and universities.