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.
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.