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Georgia lawmaker introduces bill that could help HOPE scholars, expand eligibility

The popular lottery-funded program would include technical college students – giving them a chance for eligibility.
Credit: susanne2688 - stock.adobe.com

ATLANTA — An Atlanta lawmaker plans to introduce bills to expand the HOPE scholarship to include technical college students. This would give already-enrolled college students a chance for eligibility. 

"I wouldn’t be at Georgia State without the HOPE scholarship," GSU freshman Rachel Calhoun said. 

Calhoun is among the generations of young people who were able to go to college because they were awarded the HOPE scholarship. Funded by the state lottery, HOPE may be the state’s most popular program. 

"It definitely helped me in my financial aid right now," Calhoun said.

Lawmakers want to expand the HOPE to include tuition for technical college students seeking associate degrees. They’d also expand HOPE to fund tuition for students after they’re already in college - if they can maintain a 3.3 grade point average.

"The HOPE scholarship changed my life," said state Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Atlanta), who asked the state to analyze the cost.  

The price tag was $2.9 million, according to a fiscal note delivered by the state department of audits.

"I submit that is a price tag that the lottery can afford," Evans said. "They’re continuing to have record years. Folks are playing the lottery in record numbers and we really should invest in our people in this way."

Evans said the scholarships would produce much-needed workers seeking careers in Georgia.  

University System Chancellor Sonny Perdue called the growth of the lottery "phenomenal."

"I’m amazed that it continues to grow. And that's been a phenomenal aspect that most states don’t enjoy. But it continues to grow. How do you put policies in place anticipating what the revenue will be to meet the demand? That’s a real challenge," said Perdue, a former Georgia governor. 

Perdue said the HOPE expansion is worth considering at least.  

"I think the General Assembly will figure it out," he said. "I’ll be for the policies that right-size the budget of the lottery to make sure it gives more opportunities to more students." 

Evans’ bill has received bipartisan support before. She’s hoping the cost analysis will give it a boost in the 2023 session. 

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