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Enrollment may be impacted by cuts, by changes in HOPE

As a result of the recent HOPE scholarship cuts, Valdosta State University expects to see a decrease in the number of students coming from the metro Atlanta area, possibly leading to an overall decline in enrollment.

Recapping the cuts, HOPE will no longer pay the full tuition amount, but will cover about 87 percent of tuition considering the Georgia Board of Regent’s latest decision of a three percent increase in the tuition rate.  The board also eliminated book and fee allowances.

While VSU has recently experienced a growing number of students coming from the metro Atlanta area, the reductions in HOPE may affect this trend.

“With the cuts in the HOPE scholarship and the other financial aid programs, we’re concerned that that trend may not continue,” Financial Aid Director Doug Tanner said. “It’s been increasing, but we fully expect that we will not see as many students from metro Atlanta here at Valdosta in the future as we’ve seen in the last few years.”

According to VSU’s Strategic Research & Analysis for fall 2010, 44.8 percent of the 2,524 new freshmen enrolled were from the metro Atlanta area.

Following Lowndes County, Georgia counties with the highest overall enrollment during this time included Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb at 2,250.

Tanner said many students may choose a less expensive route for their college education by enrolling in a school closer to home where they can live with family and not have to pay boarding and meal plan expenses, whereas when HOPE paid the full amount, it meant that students could afford to have a more traditional college experience.

Since these students make up a large portion of the student population at VSU, this decrease could cause a decline in enrollment, with local students deciding to stay in Valdosta.

“We may see more local students here at VSU because they can’t afford to go away to UGA or Georgia Southern or one of the other state schools,” Tanner said.

Other schools, such as the University of Georgia, are unsure of the enrollment changes the recent HOPE cuts will bring.

“At the University of Georgia, we’re watching this closely, but currently our deposits paid for summer and fall semesters are running slightly ahead of the same period a year ago,”  said Cynthia Hoke, director of the university’s News Service.  “We’re continuing to monitor, as like VSU and other schools, we’re not exactly sure what, if any, the impact will be.”

At Augusta State University, the changes in HOPE might actually be a positive for the school.

According to its campus paper, The Bell Ringer, Augusta State’s President William Bloodworth said he expects enrollment to increase following HOPE reductions.

He stated that when HOPE paid the full amount, it allowed students to leave home for college and other institutions, like VSU, were able to take advantage of this mobility, but as a result of the changes,  more local students are likely to find Augusta State more affordable compared to other universities.

While some schools remain optimistic, there is the possibility that universities system-wide in Georgia will face a decline in enrollment.

“I think there will be students who will not be able to attend,” Willis Potts Jr., chairman of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, said. “Everybody out there is concerned about it.”

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One comment

  1. Without HOPE, there will be Atlanta students who will not be able to attend. It is a major concern and a shame for these students who worked hard to try to build a better future based on a solid education.

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