A new study by the University System of Georgia has found many students won't have that scholarship after their first year.
Domonique Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to keep the HOPE Scholarship.
Domonique says, "I had to take a semester off. I worked and I'm paying for classes now, so."
Like many other students at Valdosta State University, Dominque lost her scholarship after her freshman year. In fact, three out of four freshman who start school with the state scholarship won't have it their second year.
Scott Pool, Assistant Professor of Music, says, "Don't count on it. Just because a student makes an A in high school doesn't mean they'll make an A here."
It’s a shocking reality which ends up costing many students their "free ride."
So why are so many students losing out on this scholarship after their freshman year? VSU educators say these students simply aren't prepared to enter college life.
Doug Tanner, Financial Aid Director, says, "A lot of students don't do a lot in high school. They don't prepare and they don't have a lot of outside assignments that have to be turned in."
It's an adjustment educators say many simply aren't ready for, and it could end up forcing those scholarship students to look toward student loans as a means of paying for their education.
The study says HOPE retention rates have been relatively low since the state scholarship started back in 1993.