What's the real deal with HOPE? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What's the real deal with HOPE?

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Many college students are still confused about how HOPE scholarship changes recently signed into law by the Governor will affect them. With tuition going up, students say their HOPE Scholarship is more important that ever.

Many students are unemployed, without the HOPE scholarship they couldn't afford to continue with classes and they say the changes will just force them to work harder.

Because so many students at Albany Technical College have struggled to understand changes to the HOPE Scholarship and their switch from the quarter system to a semester system,  the school held day long financial aid workshops.

Students in the sessions say they can't afford to lose their HOPE Scholarship. "It's very, very important for me, it's very important for me because without it I can't afford to pay out of my pocket," said ATC Business Student Tonya Hagines.

Some students say the changes may not be all bad, and could help motivate them to study more.

"Now that they're asking for us to have our GPA rise a little bit higher, tells me I have to work a little bit harder to receive it so, it's motivation to me," said  Hagines.

"I'm going to try harder now that I know what I need to raise it. I can't afford to pay out of my pocket so financial aid really helps me pay for books and classes," said ATC Student Nydra Fullwood.

With tuition costs going up at Albany Tech and HOPE no longer paying for books, students know it's important to keep all the aid can.

"All this money that they give to me financial aid, student loans, the whole that pays for my school it goes towards my rent for where I stay at,"  said ATC Student Kevin Broadnax. 

With new limitations placed on the scholarship, students realize time is of the essence and they can't waste credit hours repeating classes. Kevin Broadnax hopes to keep the scholarship and transfer to Georgia Tech.

"Hopefully HOPE can kick in there," Broadnax said.

They say with jobs, hard to come by, and a secondary degree more important than ever, they'll have to buckle down to keep their financial aid and stay in class.

About half the HOPE Scholarship students lose it after their freshman year.