Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is proposing sweeping changes to the HOPE Scholarship program.
"It's a really a sad day for Georgia that we've gotten to this point," said spokesperson for Dougherty County Schools R.D. Harter says Governor Nathan Deal's overhaul of the HOPE scholarship could leave many potential and current college students struggling to make ends meet.
"This is a pretty high bar and my feeling is that not as near as many Georgia students will be able to take advantage of that assistance," said Harter.
But Deal says he had little choice because HOPE was facing bankruptcy in 2013. "We will have exhausted lottery reserves and be unable to meet program obligations," said Deal.
Deal's plan would lower the tuition rate to 90% for HOPE students and eliminate money for books and fees. The proposal also raises the GPA necessary to qualify for HOPE to 3.7 and requires an SAT score of 1200.
"This legislation will create the Zell Miller Scholarship â" a program to reward Georgia's top students," said Deal.
Harter says he's also troubled that Dougherty County will only receive enough funding for 200 pre-k slots. In a system with 16,000 students, he says a subpar pre-k program can have long term consequences. "The work done there is excellent and thus prepares students to achieve better in kindergarten and on through elementary school," added Harter.
But Albany Technical College President Dr. Anthony Parker suggests students take a 'no excuses' approach and do whatever is necessary to obtain an education. "If they don't go to college and get economic utility, they won't be able to participate in the recovery," said Parker. "It all isn't always bad. There are opportunities if you look hard enough for them."