Faced with the harsh reality that the programs being financed by Georgia’s lottery had to be revamped due to dwindling revenues, Gov. Nathan Deal and state lawmakers two years ago enacted a number of budget-cutting revisions to the highly popular HOPE program so that it could continue to exist.
Among those changes was an increase in the grade-point average required for students enrolled in the state’s technical college to be eligible for a HOPE grant. Legislation approved in 2011 increased from 2.0 to 3.0 the grade point average required for HOPE grant eligibility.
It was a difficult decision at the time, one that affected many would-be students looking for an education in any of the many fields of instruction offered by a superb system of technical schools.
Having seen a least a glimmer of light at the end of the financial tunnel, Deal and members of the General Assembly are now considering legislation that would revert the requirement to the previous 2.0 GPA for HOPE grant recipients. Bills in both the house and senate are winding their way through the legislative process and the governor has given his support to the change.
We hope it becomes reality.
Too often we think of traditional colleges and universities as the first and best option for post-secondary education for high school graduates. That isn’t always the case.
Many students are better served by an opportunity to learn the skills needed in a specific industry, and the technical training available at Georgia’s technical schools and colleges is impressive in both depth and scope.
Allowing those with a lower GPA to obtain financial assistance through HOPE grants will be a boon to the state’s workforce as well as to individual students. One of the keys to recruiting new industries to Georgia is to have the ability to train workers needed for specific jobs. Our technical schools give us that ability, but many of the students who would benefit most from such training need the sort of financial assistance offered by the HOPE grant.
The sort of education offered by a technical school is often the best choice for young people who may be poorly suited to pursue an academic degree in a traditional college. It is to our advantage to invest in those potential students, and the HOPE grant program has done exactly that for many years.
We hope the proposed changes in the required GPA for the HOPE grant sail through the legislative process. Such a change is good for our students, and for our state.