The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) unveiled a new website today that’s loaded with information about the recent changes to Georgia’s HOPE Grant and Scholarship program.
The website, www.tcsghopeinfo.com, is a great resource for current Georgia technical college students as well as prospective college students, both young and old, to get the latest facts about earning and keeping their HOPE program benefits.
A link to the website is also available on the Central Georgia Technical College home page, www.centralgateh.edu.
After lawmakers made the necessary modifications to the HOPE program earlier this year, many students are asking, “What about HOPE and me?” To better answer that question, the new TCSG website has examples of six students with different academic backgrounds and places in their pursuit of a college education. Two are students already in college, two more are graduating high school, another is trying to decide on where to go to college, and the last is a non-traditional student who’s looking to college to help change careers.
Visitors to the website can also access frequently asked questions about the HOPE changes and find additional information about other ways to get financial assistance for college, like the federal Pell Grant. There are links to each of the 26 TCSG college websites and an online form to submit questions about HOPE directly to any of the technical college financial aid offices.
Downloadable videos about the HOPE program requirements will be added to the website in the coming weeks.
“The TCSG created this website to assist Georgians as they navigate their way through the HOPE program, which even with the recent changes is still one of the very best college financial aid programs in the country,” said TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson. “For someone who’s enrolled at a TCSG college or is interested in attending one, getting and keeping HOPE means great cost savings on top of what’s already one of the most affordable college education values in the entire southeast. It’s important that people understand exactly what’s needed qualify for the HOPE program, what it now pays for, and how to use it to complete their college education.”
Beginning in the fall, the average tuition for a full semester course load, or 15 credit hours, in a standard program at a TCSG college will be about $1,125. Under the recent changes, the HOPE Grant or Scholarship will pay $60.75 per TCSG semester credit hour (which is determined by a percentage the cost of tuition from the previous year), meaning that the average student using HOPE at a TCSG college in the fall will have to pay about $214 in out of pocket tuition cost. Also, students will be responsible for approximately $240 in books and fees that was paid for by HOPE last year, but is no longer covered.
The website also details an important new requirement that students maintain a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) at certain checkpoints in order to keep the HOPE Grant. Previously, TCSG students receiving the grant had to maintain satisfactory academic progress, which was considered to be at least a 2.0 GPA.
Early on, there was some concern that all students would immediately need the higher GPA upon implementation of the new rule if they were to continue their HOPE Grant eligibility. However, the new rule only applies to those HOPE Grant recipients who cross the 30 or 60 semester hour checkpoint during the fall semester 2011 or later.
This means that newer students have additional time to improve their GPA, if necessary. Also, students who crossed a checkpoint with satisfactory academic progress before the upcoming fall semester will keep the HOPE Grant until they either graduate or reach the next GPA requirement at the 60-hour checkpoint.
Last year, three-quarters of the 191,000 students who enrolled at the 26 TCSG colleges relied on the HOPE program to help pay for their college education. That includes almost 138,000 students who qualified for the HOPE Grant to enroll in technical certificate and diploma programs, which usually take less than two years to complete, and another 7,400 TCSG students who used the HOPE Scholarship for two-year associate degree programs.
The Technical College System of Georgia offers more than 600 certificate, diploma and degree programs. Enrollment in the TCSG colleges has grown by almost 33 percent in just two years, with tens of thousands of new students taking advantage of the low tuition, great instructors and easy access to in-demand programs like healthcare, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and more. And almost 76,000 TCSG students studied online last year through the system’s Georgia Virtual Technical College.