Albany -- Many seniors in the 2007 graduating class took honors or Advanced Placement courses, with the promise of receiving extra Grade Point Average credit. But Georgia legislators have stripped most of those weighted credits immediately. So this year's seniors who took Honors classes, could have problems meeting the required GPA they need to receive HOPE scholarships.
Marcus Hines and Whitney Wingate, looking toward college, are taking Advanced Placement classes at Albany High School. Marcus Hines said " Now I am taking AP Chemistry and AP Literature, and AP Calculus."
Hines hopes to study biology at Emory University, and his grades are good enough not to have to worry about the true 3-point-zero GPA HOPE now requires, but he says many of his friends are. Hines said "They are worried they may not actually get the benefits they were promised when they were in the 9th grade."
In their first three years Hines and Wingate were promised they would get an extra one point weight added to their GPA for honors or AP courses. But under new HOPE rules honors courses get no added bonus, and AP adds only half what it did. Director of Guidance Patty Akers said "Those students that are in Honors courses, as long as they have made the B, then they are safe, because that is what HOPE wants."
Students who expected honors C's to be rounded up to B's now suddenly could come up short. Wingate says most of her classmates don't understand the changes, but will when they apply for HOPE. Whitney Wingate said "That's when they will be aware of it, when the time comes they need that scholarship."
Hines said he does not regret taking AP courses, which are considered college level, even if he will not get the same GPA consideration. Hines said "Because I know that schools also look at the rigor of the courses. If they see I have AP Courses and I am challenging myself, they actually will take that into regards."
But some Georgia seniors think the immediate changes are not fair, and taking more advanced courses could come back to haunt them under the new calculations in HOPE eligibility. Akers said "We want the scholarships to be awarded to those students who are serious about their pursuing their college education."
Georgia High Schools must send complete transcripts to the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which now determines HOPE GPA eligibility.
Individual high schools still use the weighted grades to ranks in class and honors.