Governor Brian Kemp is expected to sign the state’s $32 billion budget, which includes a provision that will pay full tuition for all college students receiving a HOPE scholarship.
Daniel Ivan is a senior at Kennesaw State University who’s had 90 percent of his tuition covered, thanks to HOPE.
He’s grateful the state budget pumps more money into the scholarship.
“I think that’s awesome because a lot of people don’t think that high school matters,” Ivan said. “That incentivizes high school students to try a lot harder, especially if you know you’ll have college for free.”
In 2011, lawmakers cut the lottery-funded HOPE program.
Since then, only high school graduates with a 3.7 grade point average and high test scores qualified for full tuition.
All others receive only 90 percent of their tuition paid.
Since 1993, the HOPE scholarship has provided financial assistance for Georgia students enrolling in public and private colleges and universities.
Kennesaw student Isabella Ragozzine said getting all tuition covered with a “B” average will make higher education more accessible. “Because I think a lot of people struggle hitting the G.P.A. or keeping the G.P.A. to have HOPE the entire time they’re in college,” she said.
Students credit the HOPE scholarship for empowering them to stay out of debt.
“As a first-generation college student, it’s already hard enough to find the funds,” said Alexis Taylor, another student at Kennesaw State. “I also feel like it’s a reward for me, keeping my grades up and going to class and being an active college student.”
Rachel Price lost her HOPE scholarship because her G.P.A. at Kennesaw State fell below a 3.0. “I miss it,” she said. “You don’t recognize how much HOPE gives you until you lose it. It really does help you not to get loans and keeping your loans to a minimum. It’s not that hard to keep a ‘B’ average – you just got to do the work.”
The budget agreement also raises the amount for HOPE scholarship recipients who attend private colleges across the state.
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