Ga. HOPE funds rise, but grants plummet for tech school students

The Georgia Lottery is generating more revenue, and less students are receiving HOPE scholarships. Notably, there’s a huge and alarming decrease in enrollment in the state’s technical colleges.

There will be an increase in benefits for the decreasing number of students who get them. While Gov. Nathan Deal has proposed a band-aid fix, two bills introduced into the General Assembly would go further to combat the attrition that’s taking place in the state’s technical colleges.

In a must-read article, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Deal’s proposal is possible because of a strong year for the Georgia Lottery, which provided about $55 million more for HOPE and pre-k programs. The other driver is a drop in expenses because fewer students qualify, (Georgia Student Finace Commission Director Tim) Connell said.

The largest declines are with the HOPE Grant, which is mainly used by students in the Technical College System of Georgia. In 2011, 141,887 students received the grant. There were 98,790 recipients in 2012. Only 81,008 are projected to get it this fiscal year — a 43 percent drop in two years.

Nearly 9,000 students lost the award because they were unable to maintain a 3.0 grade-point average, a new rule lawmakers set when they overhauled the program. That requirement was already in place for students in the University System of Georgia.

Some students dropped out or didn’t enroll because they couldn’t afford to pay what HOPE no longer covered, said Ron Jackson, the commissioner of the Technical College System. At the same time, the system’s enrollment dropped by about 24,500 students to 170,860 last year.

Read more.

Deal proposes increased HOPE Grants for tech school students in specific areas of study, along with slight increases overall (for a University of Georgia student, $190 a year; for a student at a lower-priced tech school, $56). That  won’t be enough to fix the problem at tech schools, but this might. State legislators have introduced Senate and House bills to lower the required GPA for technical college students from 3.0 to 2.0.  Democrats are pushing this, but it needs—and deserves—bipartisan support.

Georgia State: No. 1 in mistress ranking

Hey, the pay is better than work-study.

According to an Internet dating site that pairs cash-hungry co-eds with wealthy men, Southern women embrace the concept of being a mistress. The average pay for … uh, companionship is $3,000 a month.

According to, 292 Georgia State University students signed up last year, tops in the nation. The University of Georgia is No. 8 with 148 new users.

Money quote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Georgia State prides itself on fostering an enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit among its students,” said Don Hale, vice president for public relations and marketing communications. “We are surely surprised to see it manifested in this way by these women.”

Read more.




Albany State dishonors Ray Charles, disgraces itself, squanders donation

Many years ago, Albany, Georgia native Ray Charles donated $3 million to Albany State University for the purpose of building a performing arts center on campus to honor his late mother, Retha Robinson.  Albany State didn’t bother to build the center, but kept the money anyway. It appears that the school used much of the money for Ray Charles Presidential scholarships, instead. Well, that wasn’t the deal, according to officials at the Ray Charles foundation.

Albany State was forced to refund the donation (how much of it, we don’t know) at the behest of Georgia’s attorney general.

Shameful. By the way, Morehouse College received a million dollars from Charles and built a performing arts center.

The Albany Herald has more.



Georgia regents finalize college mergers; presidents named

It’s official. The University System of Georgia has officially merged eight institutions into four:

  • Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities become Georgia Regents University.
  • Macon State and Middle Georgia colleges become Middle Georgia State College..
  • Waycross and South Georgia colleges become South Georgia State College.
  • Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University become the University of North Georgia.

The system is now made up of 31 institutions, down from 35. None of the campuses will close and interim presidents have been named (see below).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more.

Here’s the official announcement.

ATLANTA — January 8, 2013

It’s official: today the University System of Georgia has 31 institutions – four fewer than one year ago. Meeting today, the Board of Regents approved the four institutions created over the past year from the consolidation of eight and appointed presidents to provide leadership.

After adopting four separate resolutions authorizing the new consolidated institutions, the regents appointed Dr. Riccardo Azziz president of Georgia Regents University, Dr. John Black as interim president of Middle Georgia State College, Dr. Virginia Carson as president of South Georgia State College and Dr. Bonita Jacobs as president of the University of North Georgia.

“The board’s actions represent the culmination of a tremendous amount of work by many individuals, both on the campuses and at the System Office,” said University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “We identified the opportunity, did our homework and then moved quickly, but thoroughly, to follow through.”

Huckaby noted that in response to the regents’ approval, celebrations on the campuses would inaugurate the new institutions as faculty, staff and students begin a new chapter in the University System’s history.

The board’s actions today follow the December 2012 required approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) of the prospectuses submitted by the four institutions.

While much work remains to be done to ensure the transition to the new institutions, all now will begin to operate under their new names and missions to provide academic programming, and to recruit and enroll students.

“First with the Technical College System of Georgia and now in the University System, Georgia has shown national leadership in our willingness to assess our structure and make major changes designed to better serve the state and students,” said Shelley Nickel, associate vice chancellor for Planning and Implementation for the University System. “In the University System, the past year has seen a tremendous amount of work as we have moved quickly and comprehensively to create new institutions for a new era.”

Nickel said the consolidations will enable the System to better use its resources to increase the scope of academic programming and options available to students in the areas served by the new consolidated institutions.

Huckaby announced his consolidation plan in Sept. of 2011 and the regents approved six principles for consolidation in Nov. of that year.

At its Jan. 2012 meeting the regents approved the recommendations to consolidate the eight institutions. Working groups on the campuses and at the system office then began the complex process of consolidation.

The regents approved new mission statements for the four new institutions and new names for two in May 2012, with the approval of the final two names occurring in Aug. 2012.

In Dec. 2012, SACS gave its approval to the four institutions created from consolidation.

Can private colleges make the shift to need-based aid?

Why does this remind me of fiscal cliff negotiations?

Members of the Council of Independent Colleges continue the push to move from merit-based aid to need-based aid. Can they do it? First of all, can they agree tht they want to, and can they convince their trustees to go along with them?  Another thing:  I’ve learned as a parent that a college financial aid office’s measure of affordability doesn’t necessarily gibe with the family’s idea of what they can pay—or just as importantly, what an education at that college is worth.

Inside Higher Ed has more.

As the article suggests, it may be harder for Georgia’s private schools to fully implement such as shift, since Georgia’s public colleges benefit dispropotionately from the HOPE scholarship. Eligible private college students in Georgia receive HOPE scholarships worth either $3,600 or $4,000; for comparison, a HOPE scholarship at the University of Georgia would be worth either about $6,300 or the full tuition amount. See chart.

Tuition tax credit extended in fiscal cliff bill

The college tuition credit, worth up to $2,500, has been extended (Hallelujah).

Here are some key measures of the Fiscal Cliff legislation approved by Congress on New Year’s Day, coutesy of Tax Planning:

Various Individual Tax Credits

The child tax credit remains unchanged and is permanently extended. The maximum amount of the child tax credit is $1,000, and the credit is partially refundable. However, the provision the reduces the earnings threshold for the refundable portion of the child tax credit to $3,000 will expire at the end of 2017.

The dependent care tax credit remains unchanged and is permanently extended. Daycare expenses up to $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more children qualify for the tax credit, and these amounts are not indexed for inflation.

The adoption credit is permanently extended. The credit is worth up to $10,000 (indexed for inflation).

Also permanently extended is the earned income tax credit for families with three or more dependents.

The American opportunity tax credit is extended temporarily through the end of 2017.