Saving the popular Hope college scholarship is one of the major challenges before peach state leaders this week. A couple of the proposed plans have already been announced, including one that would cut aid to students.
Reaction to the early plans to save the scholarship has not been positive. The Hope Scholarship is very popular with both students and university leaders around the state, and any proposed cuts are going to face tough opposition.
The Hope Scholarship is facing an estimated $141 million deficit by 2007. Gov. Sonny Perdue supports cuts in funding for books and fees to help save the scholarship.
"Currently, for a full time student, they receive $150 from the Hope Book Fund, that would be cut. The mandatory fees which are currently $325 per semester for full time students would not be covered by Hope," says Douglas Tanner, VSU Financial Aid Director.
That means 40 percent of Valdosta State University students would have an additional $475 out of pocket burden each semester.
“I think its ridiculous. It’s kind of like a false hope. They build you up 'We're going to help out' and then they pull the rug out from under you. They're taking help away from people that need it the most," says Kathi Storey, who relies on Hope Scholarship.
Other plans currently floating around the state capitol include a plan by Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, which calls for caps on tuition for the next three years. Other ideas on the table include tougher grade requirements.
"Most of the students that I know have right at a 'B' average, like myself. Then you up the grade requirements? That means you have to try even harder and in college it’s so hard to get your average up."
The state is facing the Hope funding problem because the lottery, which funds the scholarship, is not expected to grow as fast as the number of students who will become eligible for hope.
Financial aid directors say in the long run, limiting the number of Hope eligible students is the only way to save the program.