Valdosta - Georgia's lottery funds are shrinking, and that's bad news for college students who receive the HOPE scholarship.
Valdosta State University Senior Angela Trimble is depending on the HOPE scholarship to finish college. "My parents have three kids in college, and if it weren't for HOPE, there's no way we could be here," said Trimble.
And she's not the only student this financial aid is putting through school. Almost half of VSU's students are HOPE recipients. "For fall semester, more than 4100 of our 10,600 students were getting HOPE," said Doug Tanner, Financial Aid Director.
Lottery revenues are down, while tuition costs and enrollment are up. Governor Sonny Perdue suggests using SAT scores as HOPE scholarship criteria. "I don't agree with that at all because I didn't have that great of an SAT score, yet my college GPA has been extremely high for four years," said Trimble.
Now lawmakers have agreed that the scholarship should no longer cover books and fees. A typical textbook at VSU costs anywhere from $25 to $75. Right now, HOPE pays for $150 in books, and students say every little bit helps. "I end up paying anywhere from $150 to $700 in books each semester, depending on my course load," said Trimble.
But financial aid directors say the cuts have to come from somewhere. "It's a shame that it has to happen, but if there's a shortfall in revenues, there's no way it can support the current expenditures.
Tanner says he doesn't think the cuts will be enough to cause a decrease in enrollment. And students like Angela can stay in school and earn their college degrees.