HOPE budget boost to benefit GS students

Above is a graphic with some of the information regarding the changes to the HOPE scholarship budget for 2018. 

Alana Tinsley

The HOPE Scholarship award amounts will increase by three percent due to the near $50 million bump, according to Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2018 fiscal budget.

The 2018 proposed budget will add money towards the HOPE financial aid program and the Pre-Kindergarten program. Both of these programs are lottery-funded and will receive an increase in spending for the 2018 year.

Deal’s budget will gain $49.3 million for the HOPE Scholarship for public schools and the Zell Miller Scholarship to keep pace with growth and raise the award amount, according to a Georgia Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) article.

$515,441 will also be added to the HOPE Scholarship for private schools to increase the award amount for HOPE and Zell Miller Scholars.

The details

The HOPE scholarship aims to help students in post-secondary programs that graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA and can maintain that GPA, by covering a portion of their tuition. HOPE is available to students in public or private post-secondary institutions, that are in associate or bachelor degree programs.

The Zell Miller grant covers full tuition and is awarded to students who graduate from high school with a 3.7 GPA and maintain a 3.3 GPA throughout their postsecondary years. Of the $49.3 million awarded, about $10.9 million of that will be directed to the Zell Miller Scholarship program, which has grown about 12 percent annually, according to the GBPI article.

“Most people take [out] loans and interest starts building before we even graduate. Having to take less money out would be a huge help in the long run,” Hayley King, junior public relations major, said.

King finds that with the more money coming into the program, students can get more than 80 percent of tuition that they normally get.

Another GS student feels as if the 2018 fiscal budget plan will bring only good things.

“I think it would be great if we got more money. It would be cool if the three percent increase was a stipend along with the financial aid,” Adam Card, junior business management information systems major, said.

Card believes that if the 2017-2018 academic year costs are kept below the three percent, it’ll be a good thing for future college students with HOPE because if the tuition increases more of it will be covered by financial aid.

According to the GBPI article, if potential tuition increases for the 2017-2018 academic year are kept below three percent, the HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant will cover a larger portion of tuition than is now the case.

Pre-K effects

In addition to the HOPE financial aid increasing in award amount for the 2018 fiscal budget, the budget will also improve for Pre-K aspects.

According to the GBPI article, the Pre-K budget for 2018 will receive $5.2 million. Pre-K student’s teachers will receive a two percent raise in their salaries, as a part of a statewide hike for merit pay and recruitment and retention initiatives for state employees.

In addition to Pre-K teacher’s salaries receiving a two percent raise, the statewide budget will receive $1.8 million to boost the employer’s share of payments to the Teacher Retirement System.

The 2018 fiscal budget should go into place July 1.