‘That’s really big for students’: HOPE Scholarship to now pay 100% of tuition

For all graduating high schoolers and college students receiving the HOPE scholarship, they will now include 100% of tuition paid.
Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 11:11 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia lawmakers are making it a lot easier for qualifying high schoolers and college students to attend college and grasp a better education.

The 2023 state budget pays to educate over a million K-12 students, and over 400,000 college students. For all graduating high schoolers and college students receiving the HOPE Scholarship, they get 100% of their tuition paid for.

“In all honesty, that’s really big for students. The HOPE Scholarship is for students that have done really well academically and continue to do really well academically. So, at the end of the day, to me, you’re rewarding the hard work that students are putting in in the classrooms,” Michael Tanks II, a senior at Valdosta State University, said.

HOPE, which stands for Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally, has provided assistance towards the cost of tuition since 1993.

“We’re looking at a ‘recession,’ so I think this will help them so much. Not only them, but it will help the parents that have to pay additional fees and different things having to do with tuition,” Georgia State Representative Dexter Sharper said. “To give them the opportunity to not really have to worry about the financial part, but to really focus on the education part.”

Starting July 1st, officials are going back to the original system of paying full tuition for all high school graduates with a minimum 3.0 grade point average, and maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average once in college. Something many current and former Valdosta State University students say is life-changing.

“With today’s economy, I think it’s great that they’re giving students 100% tuition. I know back then, when I was in school, I’m a graduate of Valdosta State University, HOPE Scholarship only paid half so that left people struggling. I know a lot of people aren’t financially stable to help with tuition,” Jermaine Abron, a VSU alumnus, said. “So not to worry that you have to pay anything back, I think that helps the mind and the mental of students coming out of college.”

In the 2023 session, the Georgia Senate voted 54-1 to approve the measure. Then the Georgia House approved it 170-3.

Student debt is an expense that looms over many Georgians. In fact, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia has one of the highest student loan debts in the country.

“The benefit of them having the 100 percent to help them while they’re in college now, is really on the backend. To not have to worry about student loans and things like that,” Representative Sharper, said. “Something needed to be done and guess what? We went ahead and did it and made the changes that we know needed to be made.”

Research shows that the average amount borrowed in Georgia is over $41,000 making us the third-highest state for student debt.

“A lot of students do have to go into student debt and get loans. So, for a student to be able to work hard, do really well academically and then be able to get rewarded for that, I think that’s something that’s worth 100% tuition,” Tanks said.

Georgia Student Finance Commission says this initiative has helped over a million students create a better-educated workforce.