Petition Closed
Petitioning Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia legislature

Amend HB 326 HOPE Scholarship


We would like to propose an Amendment to HB 326, the HOPE Scholarship.

The HOPE scholarship has been a contributing factor in the successful degree completion to over a million students in Georgia.  In the midst of a current recession, we understand that there is a shortfall in the money available for scholarships. 

When legislation was passed in March 2011, it was passed too quickly.  The support of HOPE was scheduled to end without a grace period or grandfather clause for students who would be disqualified with the new rules. They left no opportunity for students to make changes to their educational plans; transferring from the technical system to the university system, or to complete new college enrollment procedures.  The final decisions and implementation date were mere days before tuitions were due for the Fall 2011 semester at most Georgia Colleges.

We ask that an amendment be added to HB 326, the current HOPE legislation that was passed March of 2011.

1.)    Allow a grace Period for all current recipients (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) of the HOPE Grant and HOPE Scholarship.

2.)    Grandfather students who currently (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) receive the HOPE Grant or HOPE scholarship who would be transferring from a Technical or Community college to a 4 year school, regardless of the 7 year rule.

3.)    Set an end date for students who are grandfathered in.

4.)    Set an income cap of $175,000

5.)    Limit or remove support For-Profit Institutions, Private Colleges and Private Universities within the HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant.

6.)     Limit support of PRE-K Programs

Details are as follows:

1.)    Allow a grace Period for all current recipients (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) of the HOPE Grant and HOPE Scholarship.

The changes went into effect with no opportunity for current students to make changes to their educational and financial plans.  A student would have had to literally go out in March of 2011, get a job, earn and save $4700 to be able to continue to attend their local College, as a commuter student, by August of 2011 to be able to pay for the Fall 2011 semester.  This was not enough time to make major financial changes.

We propose a grace period of one semester to allow students the opportunity to make changes to their financial and educational plans and goals. 

2.)    Grandfather students who currently (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) receive the HOPE Grant or HOPE scholarship who would be transferring (or have transferred) from a Technical or Community college to a 4 year school,  regardless of the 7 year rule, until Fall of 2015, assuming other already set requirements are fulfilled.

In 2011, Georgia State University welcomed over 1800 transfer students, Kennesaw State University and the University of Georgia saw about 1400 transfer students, all who transferred from Technical and Community Colleges.  Current changes exclude those transferring, even if they met requirements and received the HOPE grant.  Statewide, the number is roughly 6500 students in a bubble.

Many transfer students are nontraditional students, those having graduated high school more than 7 years ago.  With high unemployment numbers, universities and colleges saw record enrollments among the adult population in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Many came from industries that all but died with the beginning of the recession.

It is important to support these adult students.  These adults may have graduated high school more than 7 years ago, but they were brave enough to go back to college and try to earn their first degree, and give that calculus class a try, right alongside sometimes better prepared students fresh out of high school.

These students come from the work force, were possibly unemployed, and were told they needed retraining for new and emerging industries. They listened, they signed up, and the HOPE Grant and Scholarship programs helped finance part of the way.  These students have hung in and have earned the grades required for participation. They are among the higher GPA students, and they are involved in all aspects of campus life.

3.)    We propose that a transfer deadline be set of Fall 2012, and that the grandfather clause to cease inclusion as of fall 2015. 

It is important to grandfather students who were already receiving the HOPE Grant and Scholarship into the changed legislation of 2011, because the students and their families made both educational and financial long term plans and goals based on the availability of The Scholarship funds at the time. 

4.)    Set an income cap of $175,000 for consideration of the HOPE Scholarship and Grant, with opportunity to appeal under certain circumstances.

An income cap makes sense within the state of Georgia.  We have many high earning families, and many low earning families.  The families in the middle often get left out of federal financial aid, but are still not able to completely afford a higher education without going into high debt.  $175,000 is a generous cap, and would make room for those who do need the funds.

A review or apeal process could be set for those families with multiple children in college or extinuating circumstances. 

5.)     Limit support For-Profit Institutions, Private Colleges and Private Universities within the HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant. 

By Limiting or Removing support for institutions that are not in line with the educational goals of the State, the fund will save quite a bit of money.  The purpose of the HOPE scholarship and Grant is to help with higher education costs.  Those costs are most economical at state institutions.  The private colleges and Universities in Georgia receive more than $667 Million dollars, as 153,000 students attend private and for-profit universities receiving over $4000 each a year to do so. 

6.)    Limit support of PRE-K Programs

82,000 Children attend Pre-K through the Bright from the Start Program.  It will receive $356 Million in 2011.  While we acknowledge the benefit for a Pre-K system, there are federally funded programs; The Head Start Program, as well as Private programs that partially cover the need for Pre-K.  Creative solutions, such as implementing pre-k Programs in Colleges and Universities would benefit both preschoolers as well as students wishing to become teachers.  Incentives for other locations could be offered for reduced parent participation fees, such as tax deductions for the provider. 

Conclusion:

By passing an amendment to the HOPE legislation, the student population will have the time needed to arrange their financial and educational goals according to the new requirements.  Many nontraditional students have college age children of their own, so by passing this amendment, multiple college expense burdens will be eased, and Georgia will see an across the board higher level of education in its population, as well as a stronger force of people who are educated and ready for new careers in this changing economy.

Letter to
Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia legislature
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Governors office of Georgia, Georgia legislature.

----------------
We would like to propose an Amendment to HB 326, the HOPE Scholarship.

The HOPE scholarship has been a contributing factor in the successful degree completion to over a million students in Georgia. In the midst of a current recession, we understand that there is a shortfall in the money available for scholarships.

When legislation was passed in March 2011, it was passed too quickly. The support of HOPE was scheduled to end without a grace period or grandfather clause for students who would be disqualified with the new rules. They left no opportunity for students to make changes to their educational plans; transferring from the technical system to the university system, or to complete new college enrollment procedures. The final decisions and implementation date were mere days before tuition was due for the Fall 2011 semester at most Georgia Colleges.

We ask that an amendment be added to HB 326, the current HOPE legislation that was passed March of 2011.

1.) Allow a grace Period for all current recipients (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) of the HOPE Grant and HOPE Scholarship.

2.) Grandfather students who currently (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) receive the HOPE Grant or HOPE scholarship who would be transferring from a Technical or Community college to a 4 year school, regardless of the 7 year rule.

3.) Set an end date for students who are grandfathered in.

4.) Set an income cap of $175,000

5.) Limit or remove support For-Profit Institutions, Private Colleges and Private Universities within the HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant.

6.) Limit support of PRE-K Programs

Details are as follows:
1.) Allow a grace Period for all current recipients (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) of the HOPE Grant and HOPE Scholarship.

The changes went into effect with no opportunity for current students to make changes to their educational and financial plans. A student would have had to literally go out in March of 2011, get a job, earn and save $4700 to be able to continue to attend their local College, as a commuter student, by August of 2011 to be able to pay for the Fall 2011 semester. This was not enough time to make major financial changes.

We propose a grace period of one semester to allow students the opportunity to make changes to their financial and educational plans and goals.

2.) Grandfather students who currently (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011) receive the HOPE Grant or HOPE scholarship who would be transferring (or have transferred) from a Technical or Community college to a 4 year school, regardless of the 7 year rule, until Fall of 2015, assuming other already set requirements are fulfilled.

In 2011, Georgia State University welcomed over 1800 transfer students, while Kennesaw State University as well as the University of Georgia saw about 1400 students, who transferred from Technical and Community Colleges. Current changes exclude those transferring, even if they met requirements and received the HOPE grant. Statewide, the number of students is roughly 6500 students in a bubble.

Many transfer students are nontraditional students, those having graduated high school more than 7 years ago. With high unemployment numbers, universities and colleges saw record enrollments among the adult population in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Many came from industries that all but died with the beginning of the recession.

It is important to support these adult students. These adults may have graduated high school more than 7 years ago, but they were brave enough to go back to college and try to earn their first degree, and give that calculus class a try, right alongside sometimes better prepared students fresh out of high school.

These students come from the work force, were possibly unemployed, and were told they needed retraining for new and emerging industries. They listened, they signed up, and the HOPE Grant and Scholarship programs helped finance part of the way. These students have hung in and have earned the grades required for participation. They are among the higher GPA students, and they are involved in all aspects of campus life.

3.) We propose that a transfer deadline be set of Fall 2012, and that the grandfather clause to cease inclusion as of fall 2015.

It is important to grandfather students who were already receiving the HOPE Grant and Scholarship into the changed legislation of 2011, because the students and their families made both educational and financial long term plans and goals based on the availability of The Scholarship funds at the time.

4.) Set an income cap of $175,000 for consideration of the HOPE Scholarship and Grant.

An income cap makes sense within the state of Georgia. We have many high earning families, and many low earning families. The families in the middle often get left out of federal financial aid, but are still not able to completely afford a higher education without going into high debt. $175,000 is a generous cap, and would make room for those who do need the funds.

5.) Limit or remove support For-Profit Institutions, Private Colleges and Private Universities within the HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant.

By Limiting or Removing support for institutions that are not in line with the educational goals of the State, the fund will save more than $667 Million dollars, as 153,000 students attend private and for-profit universities receiving over $4000 a year to do so.

6.) Limit support of PRE-K Programs

82,000 Children attend Pre-K through the Bright from the Start Program. It will receive $356 Million in 2011. While we acknowledge the benefit for a Pre-K system, there are federally funded programs; The Head Start Program, as well as Private programs that partially cover the need for Pre-K. Creative solutions, such as implementing pre-k Programs in Colleges and Universities would benefit both preschoolers as well as students wishing to become teachers. Incentives for other locations could be offered for reduced parent participation fees, such as tax deductions for the provider.


By passing an amendment to the HOPE legislation, the student population will have the time needed to arrange their financial and educational goals according to the new requirements. Many nontraditional students have college age children of their own, so by passing this amendment, multiple college expense burdens will be eased, and Georgia will see an across the board higher level of education in its population, as well as a stronger force of people who are educated and ready for new careers in this changing economy.

----------------

Sincerely,