Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign legislation restoring a lower grade-point average (GPA) requirement for students seeking HOPE grants to attend the state’s technical colleges.
“The governor suggested to legislators that the GPA be changed back to 2.0. His overhaul brought it to 3.0 in 2011, and a year and a half later, his legislation is to carry it back to 2.0,” said Hank Griffeth, vice president of satellite operations of Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC). “Lowering the GPA back to 2.0 is going to enable more students to stay in school and get the technical education they need. I think the governor recognized the fact that people who would create a really good, strong workforce were missing out on an opportunity to continue their education.”
Two years ago, lawmakers raised the GPA to 3.0 because of a decline in lottery revenues that fund the HOPE program. In the years since, there was a notable decline in technical college enrollment statewide. The governor’s plan returns the qualifying GPA to 2.0. Supporters say an increase in lottery revenues allows for the change, and the move will benefit several thousand students. The move to lower the GPA requirement is expected to cost between $5 million to $8 million annually in lottery funds.
“The change is going to give more students an opportunity to complete either their Technical Certificate Credit or diploma level training,” Griffeth said. “The 2.0 is going to enable students to maintain their eligibility for the HOPE grant, which will be a winning situation for the state because more people will take advantage of technical education to be gainfully employed.”
About 93 percent of the Technical College System of Georgia’s (TCSG) HOPE funding is through the HOPE grant. There were approximately 42,000 fewer TCSG students receiving the HOPE grant in fiscal year 2012.
Griffeth said the Georgia Student Finance Commission has indicated the HOPE grant changes will be implemented this fall semester if the governor signs House Bill 372 into law.
“Last year, 82 percent of TCSG graduates were employed in their field of study or a closely related field, and 97 percent were placed when those who are employed in an unrelated field or continue their education are included,” Griffeth said. “Giving students the opportunity to maintain their HOPE grant eligibility should be advantageous for all students. It will be advantageous for Central Georgia Tech in helping to retain more students, and it will be advantageous for the system and state as a whole because students will have skills to be gainfully employed.”
For more information about the HOPE grant, or to apply, contact the CGTC financial aid office at (478) 445-2300 or visit www.centralgatech.edu.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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