The more than 3,800 students receiving the HOPE scholarship at VSU may have to take out more loans to pay for college to make up for budget cuts coming from Georgia’s capitol.
Tuesday, the Georgia House approved Gov. Nathan Deal’s HOPE bill, with an amendment that reduced the GPA students must maintain in college to keep the new Zell Miller Scholarship which covers 100 percent of tuition.
Gov. Deal’s original bill required students to have a 3.7 GPA and make a 1200 on the SAT in high school to be eligible for the Zell Miller scholarship.
They would then have to maintain a 3.5 GPA during college to keep the Zell Miller scholarship.
The House dropped the required GPA from a 3.5 to a 3.3.
Under the bill, a student can still receive HOPE if their GPA is a 3.0, but only 90 percent of tuition is covered.
“[For VSU], that amounts to a maximum of $2,068 for summer  through the next spring semester,” Doug Tanner, Director of Financial Aid, said.
Under the bill, HOPE will also no longer cover mandatory fees that it currently helps students pay for.
“HOPE currently pays $324 toward any mandatory fees charged,” Tanner said. “Generally this covers mandatory fees and the amounts that were in place in January 2004 when they were frozen. Mandatory fees at that time included Health, Student Activities, Athletic, Technology and Transportation fees.”
In total, a student who starts VSU in Fall 2010 and takes a full classload with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.3 will be responsible for about an extra $550 under Gov. Deal’s plan.
After the next academic year, the HOPE scholarship will be based on how much revenue comes in from the lottery.
If Gov. Deal insists on preserving his HOPE bill with the 3.5 GPA requirements, then the number of VSU students receiving 100 percent of tuition covered would be cut in half.
“It appears only 1,703 of the current HOPE recipients have a GPA of 3.5 or higher,” Tanner said.
After the house passed Gov. Deal’s plan with the amendment for GPA requirements, the Georgia Senate Democrats responded with a different plan for HOPE.
Their plan would be more financial based than Gov. Deal’s plan.
It would fully fund tuition to students who excel academically and whose families earn up to $140,000 a year.
Capping the income of the student’s family will allow about 94 percent of students to receive the full scholarship, Sen. Jason Carter, said Wednesday during a public hearing on the subject, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The democrats’ plan also expands the new Zell Miller Scholarship so that it covers all expenses- tuition, books and fees for students who graduate in the top three percent of their high schools.
Carter estimated that about 10 percent of HOPE recipients would qualify for this scholarship.
Since the state House passed Gov. Deal’s HOPE plan, the bill will move into the senate.
There it will go through committee and subcommittee.
If the Senate doesn’t pass the bill or approves a new bill, the bill will start over in the process between houses.
Its last stop before being passed into law will be at the hands of the Gov. Deal.