Students across Georgia depend on the HOPE scholarship program year after year as a form of financial aid to their college education. According to northwestgeorgianews.com, the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute and the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships Committee have recently reported problems with the program.
Former Georgia governor Zell Miller created the HOPE scholarship in 1992. It is a form of financial aid that provides money to assist students with educational costs and is available to Georgia residents attending a HOPE-eligible private or public institution in Georgia requiring that certain academic standards are met.
According to the Georgia State Finance Commission, the Georgia Lottery funded scholarship program has contributed more than $7 billion since its establishment.
Junior business management and accounting double major Hannah Lambert is one of the more than 1.75 million students who has benefited from the scholarship program throughout her college experience.
“I am so thankful for the HOPE scholarship,” said Lambert. “It helps me cover the cost of tuition and allows me to focus less on financial obligations and more on enjoying the college experience.”
Recently, the HOPE scholarship has faced potential downfall. The financial student aid program is at risk of running out of funds as college tuition costs increase. Chip Lake, a Marietta businessman, is a part of the Committee to Preserve HOPE, a team with a purpose of preserving the scholarship even with the risk of losing money in the future.
According to northwestgeorgianews.com and Lake, “Our figures show that if tuition keeps increasing at seven percent as it has been, and if no new revenue streams are added, HOPE could be out of money by 2028.”
In addition to the steady increase of college tuition costs, HOPE also continues to lose money due to Georgia’s increase in population.
“When it was introduce, the population was about 6 million and now it is over 10 million,” said Lake.
The slower growth rate of the lottery is also a contributing factor to HOPE’s decline, only growing at about 2.5 percent each year.
“We are concerned that the lottery growth will not be able to sustain the number of students applying for HOPE,” said Lake. “We want to address these concerns now, rather than wait until it is too late.”
The Committee to Preserve HOPE continues with their mission of working to continue the legacy of the HOPE scholarship by proposing new ideas to reboot the program to Georgia legislature on a regular basis. Students are hopeful that the HOPE scholarship will continue to serve as a beneficiary and financial aid assistant in the lives of future Georgia college students. Senior education major Bailey Wheeler is one of these hopeful students.
“If I didn’t have the HOPE scholarship, my family would be very strained financially
to send me to college,” said Wheeler. “Every year, HOPE has covered a significant part of my college tuition. Without it, I would not be able to get the quality education that I have.”