Governor to Sign HOPE Bill Today

6:44 AM, Mar 15, 2011   |    comments
Georgia State University Students
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ATLANTA -- Leaders of both parties will join Governor Nathan Deal as he signs the HOPE Scholarship bill into law at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

The ceremony will take place in the North Wing of the State Capitol. Deal will be joined by a "bipartisan group of legislators" for the signing, according to Gov. Deal's office.

With the governor's signature, HOPE Scholarship changes will take effect this July 1st with no grandfather clauses for current college students or graduating seniors.

Read the Bill: HB 326
Breakdown of Changes: Senate's Provisions
Complete HOPE Coverage: Losing HOPE 11Alive News Special

The bill cuts tuition coverage and increases academic requirements to get and keep HOPE.

It's designed to save HOPE from becoming insolvent. The scholarship is funded by Georgia Lottery revenues, which have failed to keep up with increasing tuition and enrollment.

Under the bill, only high school valedictorians, salutatorians, and students who graduate or graduated with both a minimum 3.7 GPA and minimum 1200 SAT score will receive a full ride, including books and fees.

It's called the Zell Miller Scholarship, named after the former Georgia governor who first championed the HOPE Scholarship. The inclusion of valedictorians and salutatorians was the most notable addition to the Senate's bill.

To keep a full scholarship once they get to college, students will have to maintain a minimum 3.3 GPA in school.

Current college students who have a minimum 3.3 GPA but did not have at least a 3.7 GPA in high school and minimum 1200 SAT score will not be eligible for a full ride.

All students who graduate high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA can still receive a HOPE Scholarship equal to 90 percent of this year's tuition rate. It will not cover any increases to tuition, which are expected as soon as this summer. Books and fees will not be covered either.

Gov. Deal praised lawmakers from both parties for supporting the bill, which moved quickly through the House and Senate.

"Enduring HOPE will preserve the greatest gift our state has to offer to students and will continue to set Georgia apart on the national level as having one of the most substantial state scholarships for its high-achieving students," Deal said in the statement.

But the bill does have critics. On Monday, civil rights leaders tried to meet with Gov. Deal to urge him to veto the changes to HOPE.

The state NAACP is threatening to call for a boycott of the Georgia Lottery since they want an income cap for eligibility and no change to the GPA requirements.


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