HOPE Scholarship Book Funding Changes

College students in the Peach State may be surprised to see they owe their school more money than they usually do when they return to campus over the next few days.

That's because Georgia has changed how HOPE Scholarship students get their book money.

For the first time ever, HOPE Scholarship students at Valdosta State University must choose where their scholarship book money goes, either into a flex account for books or a separate expense account.

If a student selects the flex account for books that could leave them with a larger balance for tuition and fees.

Bethanie Bass, Director of VSU Stores, says, "If they elected online for the money to go directly to books, that's where it is, but they're used to the money paying their outstanding fees first and not getting their full $150 for books."

Doug Tanner, Director of VSU Financial Aid, says, "The new regulations are a little confusing for students and have been confusing for staff members. It takes a few semesters to work the bugs out of the process."

Students who've been able to successfully transition to the new system say other students should not have a problem, especially if they take their time filling out their online financial aid documents.

Natalie Ratliff, a VSU freshman, says, "I didn't have a problem. When you sign on to the VSU Web page, it just asks if you want your funds transferred, and you just click yes and that's it."

While it can be that simple, some 400 VSU students are expected to have issues with their book money not going to where they thought it would, a problem school officials say will improve as everyone gets used to the new system.