State leaders proposed changes to the HOPE scholarship on Tuesday in a bi-partisan news conference. According to various news reports, leaders were concerned that the HOPE program was going to go “broke” because of declining lottery revenues and increases in college tuition. However, there is another fact being left out of the discussion Colleges and universities have had to raise tuition, because the state continues to slash higher education budgets. If the proposal appears to “fix” the lottery shortfall, it doesn’t “fix” Georgia’s education funding shortfall.
Under the proposal, the HOPE scholarship becomes a grant and does not cover full cost of tuition. As proposed, it will cover 90% of the tuition, but that percentage will likely go down if state leaders continue to slash education budgets and tuition rises. However, students can still qualify for full tuition if they have a 3.7 GPA and at least a 1200 SAT score. Let’s assume this will require a score of 600 on the math and 600 on the reading. What does this mean? Consider the statistics below.
According to The College Board SAT Percentile Ranks of 2010 College-Bound Seniors:
- 29% of Whites scored 600 or higher in math
- 5% of African Americans scored 600 or higher in math
- 21% of Whites scored 600 or higher in critical reading
- 6% of African Americans scored 600 in critical reading
In this century most economists directly link the level of education of the state’s workforce to the prospective health of the economy. Cutting back on educational opportunity for every student is cause for pause. Cutting financial aid for worthy and able college bound students in the midst of the worse economic downturn in 50 years moves the state in the wrong direction.