Digging Deeper: How has HOPE changed? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: How has HOPE changed?

The HOPE Scholarship helps thousands of students go to college every year, but only about 30% of them will keep HOPE through graduation. Changes to the HOPE program may reduce that rate even more.

Financial Aid specialists say those changes will make it more difficult for students who lose the scholarship to get it back.

To help make things clear, the technical schools put together a website for students so there's no question what they need to do to keep the aid.

It's the pressing question on just about every college students lips, What about my HOPE Scholarship?

"I came today to find out what procedures you go through about your financial aid especially your HOPE," said ATC Student Clarence Reid.

Albany Tech held a financial aid workshop and created a website to make sure students know where they stand before it's too late.

"The Technical college system did a this is my situation this is how it will affect me scenario and they've got several videos that are posted on our web page," said ATC-Financial Aid Director Helen Catt.

The biggest change to the HOPE Scholarship is the requirement to keep it. Graduating High School students must have a 3.0 grade point average, students in college must maintain a 3.0. For the fall, HOPE will only pay 90 percent of the current tuition rate. Students with a 3.7 GPA qualify for the Zell Miller Scholarship which pays just 100 percent of tuition.

"There's no book allowance, no fee allowance and it's 90 percent of the prior years tuition," Catt said.

Students must meet the 3.0 GPA at check points of 30 and 60 hours. Students with a bachelor's degree are no longer eligible, and learning support course work and dual enrollment course work doesn't count. If you lose the scholarship, you can only regain eligibility one time and now there's an eligibility deadline.

"There's a seven year after high school graduation date deadline now," Catt said.

Financial Aid officials say it's got more students applying for student loans especially with tuition going up.

"It is easy to get a student loan, there's no credit check involved, really your, I guess they know you're going to graduate so that's your collateral, kind of your education is your collateral," Catt said.

And students say if they want to graduate and stay in school, they'll just have to work harder to keep their HOPE scholarship.

We found some interesting statistics on how many students in our area are HOPE scholars. 31 percent of students at Albany State University, 12 percent of freshman at Darton College, 51 percent at Georgia Southwestern, and 34 percent of students at ABAC use the HOPE scholarship to start college.

Current HOPE students are not "grand-fathered" in. They will see a reduction in their HOPE money this fall.

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