Valdosta - Since it's creation in 1993, The HOPE Scholarship program has helped one million students pay for the rising cost of college tuition.
"I was happy when I was awarded HOPE because I knew it would cut down the cost of my education," says college sophomore Tia Holmes.
Freshman Zsavai Pages agrees. "I think if I didn't get the hope, I don't know if I'd actually be here so it helped out a lot."
In fact, almost every incoming freshman at Valdosta State University is eligible. "Total, we have between 3500-4000 students on the hope each semester," says Doug Tanner, Director of Financial Aid at Valdosta State University.
But at the end of the 2007 school year, it will be more difficult for high school graduates to receive the HOPE. "In the past, students with eighty average have been eligible. Beginning this spring, students must have a 3.0 out of a 4.0 scale which is significantly higher than an eighty average," he says.
This may mean one bad grade could stand between the students and their scholarships...and they'll have to work a little harder to get it. "Since my family's income I knew it was going to be hard paying for college so I made sure I did good in school so I could get it," says Freshman Billy Rodgers.
Currently the standards to maintain the HOPE while in college have stayed the same.
The General Assembly is currently working on a bill that would delay this increase in academic standards and eligibility.