Albany -- Most Georgia colleges and universities begin their fall classes in a couple of weeks, and far fewer freshmen will get HOPE scholarships. State experts think the number will drop by a third because of a new way to calculate who is eligible, and some educators think that could mean more students going to community colleges.
Westover High School rising senior Jacob Metz will take two classes at Darton College this year and estimates it would cost him $972, but that cost will be covered by his HOPE Scholarship. "It's pretty expensive. I'm just like, I don't know how I could pay for that," Metz said.
HOPE Scholarship requirements are more stringent now, requiring a strict B Average to qualify. Westover High Director of Guidance Terry McKay says it has had a dramatic effect. "Two years ago I had over 100 students in my senior class that qualified for the HOPE. Last year because of that change dropped to 48."
At Darton College, there are already long lines of students enrolling and applying for financial aid. With fewer of them qualifying for HOPE, Darton officials are not sure how it will impact their enrollment, but many expect more students to end up at community colleges.
Darton College Director of Communications Krista Gelow said "those who were planning to go off to a school away from home may not have enough money, or the funds necessary, so they may stay closer to home, which would definitely be an advantage to us."
The HOPE Scholarship covers tuition and other costs for qualifying Georgia residents at the state's public colleges and universities.
Metz said he knows a lot of his friends are affected by the higher HOPE qualifications. "Oh yeah, there is definitely a lot of people."
The state's colleges and universities will see in the next few weeks what those students not qualifying will do, without that HOPE money. Even if they don't qualify before they enroll in college, students can then earn a HOPE if they maintain a B Average for 30 hours of college credit.