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Save HOPE, raise GPA requirements

For Georgia residents, the HOPE scholarship is often a student’s ticket into college. Lately, the program has been running short on funds and having to dip into reserves to pay students the full amount of their awards.
According to InsideHigherEd.com, HOPE’s funding will run out by the end of fiscal year 2013. That means that many Georgia high school students may never get to attend college. Also, Georgia residents who attend state schools may have their education cut short if they cannot afford tuition after HOPE runs out.
Officials have debated ways to combat HOPE’s shortage of funding, but they haven’t found many options.
“Our standing joke on this is that legislators will want to reform the program any way they can, unless it cuts the number of awards or amount of awards, which are the only two options,” David Lee, director of strategic research and analysis for the Georgia Student Finance Commission, said in an article on InsideHigherEd.com.
Currently, HOPE is a merit based scholarship awarded to students who graduate from a Georgia high school with a 3.0 GPA or higher. To renew their scholarship each year, students must maintain their 3.0 GPA in college.
With more students graduating high school and entering college each year, HOPE expenditures are always rising. Revenues from the Georgia Lottery, which funds the HOPE scholarship, are also rising, but not at the rate necessary to fulfill the scholarship’s needs.
Since money isn’t exactly the easiest thing to find, why not just change some of the requirements for the scholarship?
Generally the students with higher grades are the ones who work hardest. Those who put forth the most effort should get the greatest reward.
A 3.0 average in high school can be fairly easily obtained by taking easier grade boosting classes. If the required average were higher, the number of students entering college with HOPE would be lower, allowing each hard working student to get the merit based financial help they deserve.
The GPA that has to be maintained should be higher than a 3.0 as well, but to give students a little leniency it can be lower than the initial requirement to receive the scholarship.
Raising the grade requirement will ensure that the future generations of the best and brightest of Georgia’s college students will receive HOPE scholarship money.
Each student has the right to an education, and many students cannot get that without financial help. However, students should earn that help.

This editorial was written by Amber Smith (amsmith@valdosta.edu) and it expresses the opinion of the entire editorial staff.

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