AJC: HOPE income cap hurts middle class

In an op-ed to the AJC, Gov. Deal outlines his commitment to keeping the HOPE scholarship merit-based in order to give Georgia every edge when it comes to job creation: READ HERE

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Last year, Georgia faced a $300 million shortfall in our lottery-funded educational programs. Left untouched, HOPE would have exhausted its reserves and been unable to pay its bills by this July.

The choice wasn’t between change and the status quo; the choice was between change and bankruptcy. I worked in a bipartisan fashion to save HOPE.

First, we tied future expenses to revenues, meaning the size of the scholarship each year would depend on money generated. Second, we decided to keep the scholarship merit-based, which treats all students equally and benefits the state long-term by incentivizing our best and brightest to stay home.

Before HOPE took effect in 1993, 60 to 70 percent of students who today qualify as Zell Miller Scholars — 1200 SAT and 3.7 GPA — left our state to attend college. Today, we’ve flipped that number: 60 to 70 percent of our top students stay in Georgia.

Our Enduring HOPE law strikes a balance among three goals. It retains the best and brightest in-state for college, it continues to increase access to college for all Georgians, and it promotes academic achievement.

Given the stark reality that paying full tuition and fees and providing a book allowance is no longer possible, these reforms represent the best option for maintaining Georgia’s economic development advantages.

This gives Georgia businesses access to a highly skilled workforce. Executives looking to relocate will know their employees’ kids can earn the best merit-based state scholarship in the nation. And the bright minds educated with Georgia tax dollars will stay here, create jobs here, pay taxes here and lead Georgia into the future.

Recently, Senate Democrats have suggested means testing for HOPE scholarships. They claim we can pay full tuition for all students with 3.0 GPAs whose household income is below $140,000. They’re wrong. Way wrong.

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@GovernorDeal
Governor Nathan Deal